Place names in China
In his study of place-names in China, J. E. Spencer notes that "although Chinese names indicate both domestic cultural and geographical influences, they almost never indicate cultural influence from other parts of the world", a tendency that also appeared to be characteristic of Chinese place-names in Singapore.
In Chinese grammar
Names for places in China, when referred to in Chinese contain a class identifier. In English this is often translated, while the rest of the name is not. The class identifier in Chinese is placed at the end, in English with the exceptions of mountains and lakes the identifier is placed at the end too. For names of lakes and mountains "X Lake"  / "Lake X" and "X Mountain" / "Mount X" both is used.
Some mountain ranges like Tian Shan are referred to English by the Chinese name. "Tian" means sky or heaven and "Shan" means mountain(s), so Tian Shan literally translates as the "Heaven Mountains".
List of class names
E = English, C = Chinese, P = Pinyin
|Group||Class (E)||Class (C)||Class (P)||Example (E)||Example (P)|
|Administrative||Autonomous Region||自治区||Zìzhìqū||Tibet Autonomous Region||Xīzàng Zìzhìqū|
|Administrative||Province||省||Shěng||Hebei Province||Héběi Shěng|
|Administrative||County||县 / 縣||-xian||She County, Hebei||Shè Xiàn|
|Administrative||Autonomous county||自治县||Zìzhìxiàn||Dachang Hui Autonomous County|
|Administrative||City||市||Shì||Chengdu City||Chéngdū Shì|
|Administrative||District||区||Qū||Bincheng District||Bīnchéng Qū|
|Administrative||League||盟||Méng||Alxa League||Ālāshàn Méng|
|Administrative||Autonomous banner||自治旗||Zìzhìqí||Evenk Autonomous Banner||Èwēnkèzú Zìzhìqí|
|Landform||Mountains||山脉||Ailao Mountains||Āiláo Shān|
|Landform||Mountain||山||Shān||Tianmu Mountain||Tiānmù Shān|
|Landform||Island||岛||Dǎo||Liugong Island||Liúgōng Dǎo|
|Landform||Plateau||草原||Cǎoyuán||Bashang Plateau||Bàshàng Cǎoyuán|
|Landform||Peninsula||半岛||bàn dǎo||Shandong Peninsula||Shāndōng bàn dǎo|
|Landform||Valley||沟 (formally 峡)||Insukati Valley|
|Landform||Pass||关||Guān||Kunlun Pass||Kūnlún Guān|
|Landform||Desert||沙漠||Shāmò||Taklamakan Desert||Tǎkèlāmǎgān Shāmò|
|Landform||Gorge||峡||Xiá||Wu Gorge||Wū Xiá|
|Landform||Basin||盆地||Péndì||Tarim Basin||Tǎlǐmù Péndì|
|Landform||Cave||洞||Dòng||Xianren Cave||Xiānrén Dòng|
|Landform||Plain||平原||Píngyuán||Chengdu Plain||Chéngdū Píngyuán|
|Landform||Rock||磯/矶||Jī||Swallow Rock||Yànzi Jī|
|Landform/Water||Spring||泉||Quán||Baimai Spring||Bǎi Mài Quán|
|Landform/Water||Waterfall||瀑布||Pù Bù||Hukou Waterfall||Hǔ Kǒu Pù Bù|
|Landform/Water||River||河||Hé||Huai River||Huái Hé|
|Landform/Water||River||江||Jiāng||Chang River||Cháng Jiāng|
|Landform/Water||Lake||湖||Hú||Ayding Lake||Àidīng Hú|
|Landform/Water||Sea, X Gulf||Hǎi||Bohai Sea||Bó Hăi|
|Landform/Water||Bay||灣||Wān||Bohai Bay||Bóhǎi Wān|
|Landform/Water||Reservoir||水库||Shuǐkù||Jiangkou Reservoir||Jiāngkǒu Shuǐkù|
Chinese reckon five directions:
- East: 东, Dong — e.g., Guangdong (广东), "Eastern Part of the Expanse"
- West: 西, Xi — e.g., Xi'an (西安), "Western Pacified Area"
- South: 南, Nan — e.g., Hainan (海南), "South of the Sea"
- North: 北, Bei — e.g., Beijing (北京), "Northern Capital"
- Central/Middle: 中, Zhong —e.g., Hanzhong (汉中), "Middle of the Han"
From the early concept of yin and yang (阴 and 阳), originally based upon exposure to the sun, many placenames also incorporate them. Old Luoyang was located on the north bank of the Luo. Old Hanyang was located on the north bank of the Han, while the eponymous county seat of Hanyin was located on the south bank. When a placename is derived from a mountain, however, these positions are reversed: the yang side is the mountain's south face and the yin side its north.
- Spencer, Joseph Earle (1941). Chinese Place Names and the Appreciation of Geographic Realities. p. 77.
- Yeoh, Brenda S. A. (2013). Contesting Space in Colonial Singapore: Power Relations and the Urban Built Environment. p. 232. OCLC 868218855.
- Ryavec, Karl E. (1994). "Important New Sources for the Study of Tibetan Geography: An Analysis of a Recent Chinese County Place Name Index of Dzamthang in Eastern Tibet". Central Asiatic Journal. 38 (2): 222. JSTOR 41927981.
- http://www.mwr.gov.cn/english1/20040802/38171.asp - Ministry of Water Resources