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This is a question from an exercise book that I'm currently working through, to rearrange the given words into the correct order. I believe the format is along the lines of "The person who was [doing a thing] is [a specific person]", but I'm not sure because I'm not too familiar with this construct.

The words are:

张先生 男朋友 卖 妹妹 书 那个人 的 是 的

I believe the correct order should be:

卖书的那个人是张先生妹妹的男朋友

Is this correct?

EDIT

So far two submissions, but no confirmation. Any native speakers like to weigh in?

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1  
As a native speaker, I agree with your order. Any other orders in the submissions need extra characters (like 给) to make the sentences solid. –  coolcfan Mar 1 '12 at 2:19

4 Answers 4

up vote 4 down vote accepted

I agree with your answer - it makes sense and reads well. I'm a native speaker, btw.

Although 张先生是卖书那个人的妹妹的男朋友 works too, I still prefer your order :)

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I'm not a native speaker, but personally I would say it this way (slightly different from what was already suggested if the meaning is to be "Mr. Zhang is the person who sells (or sold) books to little sister's boyfriend."):

张先生是卖书给妹妹的男朋友的那个人

So that would be a good reply to the question "Who is Mr. Zhang?"

I like the composition of your original 卖书的那个人是张先生妹妹的男朋友 but it has a very different meaning: "The person who sells (sold) books is Mr. Zhang's little sister's boyfriend".

So that would be a good reply to the question "Who sells (sold) books?" although the 卖书的那个人是 could be left out entirely from the answer.

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Note that 给 is NOT one of the op's words. –  Jon Feb 28 '12 at 16:56

Below and many other orders are grammatically correct:

张先生的男朋友是卖妹妹书的那个人
张先生的妹妹是卖男朋友书的那个人
妹妹的男朋友是卖张先生书的那个人
男朋友的妹妹是卖张先生书的那个人

卖书的那个人是张先生妹妹的男朋友 <- your order
卖书的那个人是张先生男朋友的妹妹 <- if you allow homosexuality

卖书的张先生是妹妹那个人的男朋友

卖张先生书的那个人是妹妹的男朋友
卖妹妹书的那个人是张先生的男朋友
卖男朋友书的那个人是张先生的妹妹
卖张先生书的那个人是妹妹的男朋友

卖张先生男朋友的书的那个人是妹妹
卖张先生妹妹的书的那个人是男朋友
卖妹妹男朋友的书的那个人是张先生

卖书的那个人是张先生妹妹的男朋友
卖书的那个人是张先生男朋友的妹妹

卖书的那个人是妹妹的男朋友张先生

张先生是卖妹妹书的那个人的男朋友

卖那个人书的是张先生妹妹的男朋友
卖那个人书的是张先生男朋友的妹妹

卖那个人书的张先生是妹妹的男朋友

卖张先生那个人书的是妹妹的男朋友
卖妹妹那个人书的是张先生的男朋友
卖男朋友那个人书的是张先生的妹妹
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张先生是卖妹妹的男朋友书的那个人。

Mr. Zhang is that man who sells books to his sister's boyfriend.

Alrhough “张先生是卖给妹妹的男朋友书的那个人“ (note the character 给) would seem to fit Chinese grammar better.

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2  
I am not downvoting because I am not a native speaker, but this seems totally incorrect. I support Phil's original guess. –  Jon Feb 28 '12 at 15:52
    
@Jon Without 给 this sentence can have two meanings -- the first can be the one in the answer, the other can be Mr. Zhang is the man who sells sister's boyfriend's books. –  coolcfan Mar 1 '12 at 2:17

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