This study reports the results of two sets of corpus studies on the use of beneficiary structures (wèi-dòng shì), one in modern and the other in ancient Chinese. First, we analyzed the semantic associations of the word wèile ‘do something for something/someone’ in modern Chinese, using two corpora and the word-embedding model. The results were in line with semantic analyses proposed in the Semantic-Map Model. Second, based on an examination of all the sentences expressing beneficiary meanings in Zuo’s Commentary and Mencius, we established that the beneficiary structure in those works involves a light-verb structure that should be syntactically distinguished from other such structures that introduce causative and intentional events. As well as providing some new evidence regarding the semantic content of the wèi-dòng shì in modern Chinese, we present structural evidence of its source, which can be dated to the pre-Qin period, as shown by the examples in the two target ancient-Chinese texts.