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In this sentence:

车费我们俩一人付一半,怎么样?

I don't fully understand the meaning of 一人付一半.

I have found that 付一半 can mean "pay half", but 一人 confuses me (if it refers to one person, why is that form used instead of 一个人?).

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一个人付一半 is also valid in this case –  AngelLeliel Jul 17 '12 at 19:14
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2 Answers 2

up vote 11 down vote accepted

一人 can be thought of as 'per person' or 'each person'.

This grammatical construction is extremely common in Chinese. I think it's called topical construction (correct me if I am wrong here). Essentially, you have the topic of the sentence (bus/taxi fare) at the start, followed by the subject, verb and the rest of the object.

So let's break it down:

  1. Topic: 车费 (bus/taxi fare - need more context to determine the exact nature)
  2. Subject: 我们俩 (We [two])
  3. Verb: 付 (to pay)
  4. Object: 一半(车费) (half [of the fare])
  5. Adverbial: 一(个)人 (each person, per person - alternative wording: 每(个)人)

Possible translations:

  • We split the fare by paying half of it each.
  • We both pay half the fare.
  • Each of us pays for half the fare.

I missed the last bit of your question the first time around. The measure word 个 is omitted. It means the same whether it's in there or not (in this case). However, 一人 in this sense is also used in some set phrases (such as 一人做事一人当 - one is responsible for one's own actions), and in those cases, you cannot use 一个人 in its stead. Fivesheep's answer has enough examples to give you a good idea how often it's used.

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is there a difference between 一人 and 个人 in this context? Are they interchangeable? (Ignoring the 我们俩 part which would make 个人 confusing). –  Kang Ming Jul 17 '12 at 15:21
    
Great answer. Worth noting that is one of the most complicated morpheme in the language despite its simple meaning as word (and its look maybe). There are even theses discussing the syntax and semantics of 一X一Y (cdmd.cnki.com.cn/Article/CDMD-10216-2010089251.htm). –  NS.X. Jul 17 '12 at 18:39
    
@KangMing Not 个人 but 一个人, in which case, it is equivalent to 一人. The measure word 个 is omitted. That being said, however, in colloquial speech, you'd probably hear '个人' used in this context as well; just the speakers being lazy in my opinion. –  deutschZuid Jul 17 '12 at 20:28
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@JamesJiao, if you hear 个人付一半 I believe it's actually 各人付一半. –  NS.X. Jul 18 '12 at 2:56
    
@NS.X. You are probably right :). –  deutschZuid Jul 18 '12 at 4:27
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Each of us two pay half the fee, what do you think?

it's very common to say 一人..., e.g. 一人一个, 一人一次 there's also an idiom 一人做事一人当

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