Chinese Preposition 通过 (Tōngguò) Explained in Detail – With Examples / HSK 1 – HSK 3

The Chinese language is unique, possessing a grammar and structure distinct from Indo-European languages. One of the fascinating aspects of Chinese is the use of prepositions (or coverbs) that link nouns with verbs to indicate relationships in time, space, or logic. Among these, “通过” (tōngguò) is exceptionally versatile and noteworthy. In this article, we delve deep into its usage, meanings and illustrate with examples.

1. Basic Meaning of 通过 (Tōngguò)

Literally, “通过” can be broken down as:

  • 通 (tōng) – to pass through or communicate
  • 过 (guò) – to pass or to go through

Together, “通过” fundamentally means “to pass through” or “by means of.” However, its application in sentences can vary widely based on context.

2. Using 通过 as “Through” or “By Means Of”

When discussing the physical or metaphorical passages, “通过” can signify “through.”

Example 1:


(Tā tōngguò chuānghu kàn dào le wàimiàn de fēngjǐng.)

She saw the scenery outside through the window.

3. Indicating Method or Means

“通过” can also describe the method or means by which something is achieved.

Example 2:


(Wǒmen kěyǐ tōngguò diànzǐ yóujiàn jiāoliú.)

We can communicate via email.

4. Expressing Approval or Acceptance

In bureaucratic or official contexts, “通过” might mean to approve or pass a specific proposal or document.

Example 3:


(Zhège tí’àn yǐjīng bèi tōngguò le.)

This proposal has been approved.

5. Reflecting on an Experience

“通过” can also express gaining understanding or insight via an experience or a particular event.

Example 4:


(Tā tōngguò zhè cì jīnglì xuédào le hěnduō.)

He learned a lot through this experience.

6. Avoiding Direct Action

Sometimes, “通过” can also imply that a certain outcome was achieved without direct action but through indirect means.

Example 5:


(Tā tōngguò zhōngjiān rén gòumǎi le nà fú huà.)

He purchased the painting through an intermediary.

Tips on Usage

  1. While “通过” is versatile, remember that context is king. The surrounding words and overall meaning of the sentence will dictate how to best interpret it.
  2. “通过” is often used in formal contexts. While it’s perfectly okay to use it in everyday conversation, simpler alternatives are often available.
  3. Just like any other preposition, “通过” requires practice. The more exposure you have to it in various contexts, the more natural its usage will become.


The Chinese preposition “通过” (tōngguò) offers an intriguing insight into the richness of the language. Through understanding its diverse applications – from indicating methods to reflecting on experiences – learners can appreciate Chinese grammar’s depth and flexibility. Whether you’re a novice learner or an advanced speaker, knowing the nuances of “通过” can greatly enhance your comprehension and expression in Chinese.

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FAQ: Chinese Preposition 通过 (Tōngguò)

Q1: Is 通过 (tōngguò) used in both spoken and written Chinese?

A1: Yes, but it’s more commonly seen in formal written documents, official contexts, or news reports. In casual spoken Chinese, there might be simpler alternatives.

Q2: Are there other prepositions in Chinese that have similar meanings to 通过 (tōngguò)?

A2: Chinese has several prepositions that can indicate method or process, like 依靠 (yīkào) meaning “rely on” or 根据 (gēnjù) meaning “based on.” However, their exact usage and context can differ from “通过.”

Q3: Can 通过 (tōngguò) be used to indicate time, like “through the years”?

A3: Not typically. While “通过” can mean “through” in terms of space or method, it doesn’t have the same temporal connotation as the English phrase “through the years.” For time-related contexts, other expressions would be more suitable.

Q4: What is the difference between 通过 (tōngguò) and 经过 (jīngguò)?

A4: Both can mean “to pass through.” However, “经过” often refers to passing through a specific place or a period, while “通过” emphasizes the method or channel of doing something or the act of approval in bureaucratic contexts.

Q5: Can 通过 (tōngguò) be used as a verb?

A5: Not in isolation. It functions as a preposition or cover, helping to explain the relationship between verbs and nouns or other elements in a sentence. However, in contexts like “这个提案已经被通过了” (This proposal has been approved), it’s part of the passive verb construction “被通过” (be approved).

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