There are also other Chinese characters that share the pronunciation “zuò.” The other two most commonly used characters are 坐 and 座, which are sometimes misused as well. However, differentiating between these two is a lot simpler.
坐 can be used for all tenses of the “to sit” verb
Example: 我要坐在他的旁边(Wǒ yào zuò zài tā de páng biān): I want to sit next to him. Here “坐” is used in the present tense. In Chinese, past/present/future tense is not dependent on the verb character, but the context clues within the sentence. For instance, “我昨天坐在那里 (Wǒ zuótiān zuò zài nàlǐ)” means “I sat there yesterday.” “Yesterday” shows that this was a past event. If we take out “昨天” so the sentence becomes “我坐在那里 (Wǒ zuò zài nàlǐ),” it would mean “I sit there.”
座 is used 1) to describe a place that can be sat on or 2) a unit of measurement for large, immobile objects
1. A place to sit
你的座位在那里 (Nǐ de zuò wèi zài nà lǐ): Your seat is over there. “座位” shows the place is intended as a seat.
2. Unit of measurement
我的家在那一座山后面(Wǒ de jiā zài nà yīzuò shān hòumiàn): My house is behind that mountain. Here the unit of measurement applies to “mountain.” Skyscrapers, cities, statues, towers and bridges can all measure by “座.”
ABOUT TUTORABC Chinese
Founded in 2004, TutorABC Global, the parent company of TutorABC Chinese, created the first commercially available synchronous learning portal in the world. TutorABC Global offers world class Chinese tutors at TutorABC Chinese. For English learning, it offers TutorABC, and tutorJr.