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I found this sentence on tatoeba.org:

我就是不知道說些什麼。

I just don't know what to say.

I understand most of the sentence, but what is "些" doing there? I've always seen it used to mean "a few".

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+1 I was getting tired of seeing so much jianti on here... –  magnetar Jan 28 '12 at 14:51
    
I'm chinese. Pyko'S answer is correct. –  grace Jan 28 '12 at 16:16
    
sorry for hijacking a question for private message: i just noticed that we both have John Skeet in our g+ circles...have you met him personally? –  Laguna Jan 31 '12 at 22:19
    
Sorry for the late reply, @Laguna, but no, I've never met him personally. –  Don Kirkby Jul 17 '12 at 4:52
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1 Answer 1

up vote 7 down vote accepted

You are correct, "些" is used to mean "a few" and it also applies in the example you gave above - ie. you can't even find 'a few' words to say.

I believe you can also leave out "些" and it will still mean almost the same thing. To me, with/without "些" the sentence means the same thing but has a slightly different emphasis/tone to it.

For me, with "些" it feels a bit 'softer'...as if you are genuinely out of words (maybe you saw something and suddenly lost for words); whilst without "些" it sounds like you are frustrated (someone has annoyed you, did something stupid) and you don't know how to comment/what to say to them.

ps. I would personally say:

我就是不知道要說(些)什麼

pps. I'm also learning Chinese, so confirmation from someone who is a native speaker would be nice :)

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