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I saw this in the subtitles of a TV show:

我的手被虫子给咬了。

Why 给 is used in that sentence?

Without considering 给, I've translated it to:

My hand was bitten by an insect.

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They have the same meaning. I cannot say there's a difference between them. Though I cannot answer why. –  fefe May 22 '12 at 1:24
    
我的手被虫子给咬了 = 我的手被虫子咬了 Your translation is correct. –  coolcfan May 22 '12 at 2:18
    
To confuse you further: 我的手给虫子咬了. –  deutschZuid May 22 '12 at 2:54
    
Let's add to the confusion: 我嘅手俾蚊咬咗. :-) –  dda May 24 '12 at 13:42
    
@dda That's Cantonese, right? –  dusan May 25 '12 at 0:45
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2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

给 is part of the passive structure of the sentence you've cited. It can be used before the verb either with or without another passive marker (like the neutral 被 or the colloquial 让 or 叫). It doesn't change the meaning of the sentence though, as dacongy mentioned, it can add emphasis.

Here are some example sentences:

衣服[让]他给弄脏了。
The clothes were dirtied by him.

这个杯子[叫]我给打碎了。
The glass was broken by me.

Confusingly, 给, like 叫 and 让, can also be used as a passive marker by itself in sentences like the following

门给风吹开了。
The door was blown open by the wind.

孩子给妈妈打了一顿。
The children were given a beating by their mother.

In the above sentences, 给 could be replaced with 叫, 让, or 被 with no change in meaning. (The register and regional flavor will be slightly different.)

This paper, "北京话“给”字被动句的地位及其历史发展 (PDF)", which I haven't yet had a chance to read, analyzes the use of 给 in passive sentences (被动句) in Beijing dialect. I skimmed the abstract and it seemed like it might be illuminating.

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They are almost the same, and in most cases it only depends on what prefer to say. But one small piece of difference that I, as a native speaker, can sense is that: the one without 给 sounds more flat, meaning that the one who says it doesn't treat it like a big deal; the one with 给 seems a bit stronger. If you know the pronunciation, you can try to read them out loud, and feel the difference.

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