Questions about the rules that govern and structure the language, and the composition of clauses, sentences and expressions.

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1
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4answers
176 views

Descriptive / generative grammar of Mandarin?

Does anyone know where I can find a descriptive grammar and a generative grammar of Mandarin, in English or French?
3
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7answers
221 views

和 or 或? When to use “and”s and “or”s

A very short, isolated question: No hopes or dreams In English, it's very clear that this is "neither hopes nor dreams" i.e. there are no hopes, and also no dreams. In Chinese, which word, 和 or ...
6
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3answers
434 views

What's the difference between 了, 著 and 到 when used as verb complements?

I need help with sorting out the difference between 了, 著 and 到 when used as verb complements. I have learnt most of my Chinese in Taiwan and in my experience, Taiwanese people don't use 著 as a verb ...
3
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2answers
148 views

What role does 的 play in the sentence 我不明白你刚说的第一句话?

I take 我不明白你刚说的第一句话 to mean "I don't understand what you said in the first line" I'm trying to understand what 的 does in this sentence (or grammar function). Relatedly, would it be possible to omit ...
6
votes
3answers
381 views

What does 了 mean in this sentence?

Is it a verb? A past tense maker? Which is its function of 了 in this sentence? 曾在新西兰Berger king 做过汉堡,当过收银员。这份工作让我认识到了团队合作的重要 Thanks!!
1
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2answers
124 views

Would this sentence be grammatically correct?

I'm practicing with the words 以前 and 以后. Using the word 以前, I came up with this sentence: 我一分钟以前刚刚看到他! My English intention was to make this sentence: I just saw him a minute ago! I was ...
1
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1answer
77 views

Cantonese 咁: adverb suffix?

I know 咁 means "so", as in "so big" = "gam daai". However, I just found this sentence: 我仲未失望咁係度等 Ngo5 zung6-mei6 sat1-mong6 gam3 hai6 dou6 dang2 In which I think it ought to be interpreted ...
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7answers
364 views

Why is “他在椅子上坐” wrong?

Need help urgently!! Question #1: What are the differences between these three sentences: 1) 他坐在椅子上 2) 他在椅子上坐着 3) 他在椅子上坐 (wrong) Question #2: Why is "他在椅子上坐" wrong? Thank you in advance!
9
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6answers
489 views

Is it 一些东西 or 一点东西?

I know that 东西 translates to "something" in English. So I would like to know, can both 一些东西 and 一点东西 be used? If so, what are their differences in meaning?
2
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5answers
252 views

Is “之” usually used as a possessive pronoun (attributive) in Classical Chinese?

True or False Question: In classical Chinese, “之” is usually used as a possessive pronoun (attributive), “其” is usually used as a subject, and “彼” is usually used as an object. a. True b. ...
6
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2answers
174 views

Can you use "非常非常‘ to emphasize how much you think of something?

I'm trying to figure out if a common English usage such as the one below is used in Chinese. I really really <verb> something Could I say something like this? 我非常非常喜欢这首歌 Could I use ...
6
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3answers
924 views

Chinese countable/uncountable nouns (How do they work? Examples?)

I recall in Mandarin class, my teacher would often discuss an idea about countable nouns. I never really understood how one would easily determine when one is faced with a countable vs uncountable ...
1
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2answers
115 views

When do I use the state complement?

Recently I have been confused about when I am to use the state complement. For example, if I want to say "In general I read the messages quickly", which sentence should I write? 我一般很快地看留言 我一般看留言看得很快 ...
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1answer
235 views

Can 只有 be used in this context?

My Chinese teacher recently introduced us to the character 只. Specifically, using it to mean "only". However, all of the examples that she gave were things, like: A:你有没有X和Y? B:没有Y,我只有X。 As in, to ...
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2answers
71 views

Puzzling negation in a beginner's grammar book

From Jimmy Du's Essential Chinese, p. 46: I understand everything you say. 你说的我都懂。 I don't understand all they say. 他们说的我不是都懂。 Why is 不是 there in the second example, and not simply 不? I ...
19
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4answers
1k views

Tense and use of 了

I struggle a bit to get my head around tenses in Mandarin, and in particular when I need to use 了 (le). Do you have any tips, examples or resources to help me out with this?
1
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3answers
89 views

Difference between 谦虚 and 虚心?

In my Chinese textbook, 谦虚好学 is used, and 虚心求教 is used as well. They both mean modest, so when should I use each one?
3
votes
4answers
125 views

Does an existential sentence with “有” only carry a non-specific noun?

Sentence 1: 桌子上有一本作业 Sentence 2: 桌子上有我的作业 I think both sentences are correct. However, I just watched a grammar video which mentioned the existential sentence with "有" can only carry a non-specific ...
2
votes
8answers
298 views

Why is 我找不到 correct and 我不能找 wrong? Which grammatical point am I missing?

I was recently corrected by a Chinese friend. He said it's incorrect to say: 我不能找 He said the right form is: 我找不到 Which sentence structure pattern is this following. Is it used with only ...
2
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4answers
164 views

How do you translate “if she had not helped her, they both would be dead now” ?

How do you express in Chinese a conditional set in the past that did not actually happened? Like for instance: if she had not helped her, they both would be dead now
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2answers
66 views

What is the grammatical function of 到 in 这些的确是铁匠会用到的老式钉子 ?

How does 到 contribute to the meaning of the expression: 这些的确是铁匠会用到的老式钉子. Is there a difference between sentences with and without it: 这些的确是铁匠会用到的老式钉子 这些的确是铁匠会用的老式钉子
1
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5answers
261 views

Does it matter if I use 要 or 想 for this sentence?

他是一个不负责的人,(要/想) 当我们的经理。 Which is the right optative verb to use?
0
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5answers
169 views

Is 我携带我的猫 grammaticaly correct?

I've been writing Chinese sentences just to get myself used to the language, and I tried writing the sentence I carry my cat. I translated this to 我携带我的猫 (Pinyin: wǒ xié dài wǒ de māo). It sounds odd ...
1
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4answers
171 views

Does this sentence sound natural?

I'm self translating common phrases in English, and I tried to translate "Excuse me, do you have the time?" and came up with “劳驾、做你有那个时?”. Is this a natural sounding sentence and is it correct?
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3answers
104 views

Possessive and plural: usage of 们 and 的

This is a very basic question about a simple topic that is not really clear to me (curiously, my book doesn't address it, or, more probably, I don't get it). There are rules to: to pluralize ...
0
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1answer
90 views

What is the translation for 淫之以色,啗之以利,養之以味,娛之以樂?

淫之以色,啗之以利,養之以味,娛之以樂 is a sentence from 六韜 (six secret teachings), a book about strategies. There are 4 lines each containing 4 characters and the same pattern: A 之以 B, wherein A and B are semantically ...
0
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1answer
90 views

What is the verbatim (grammatical) meaning of 不了​了之 ?

不了​了之 is a ChengYu, read as bu4liao3liao3zhi1 its figurative meaning is "to let sth. in its original state". I guess the ChengYu had some concrete verbatim meaning in literary Chinese, but I do not ...
0
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1answer
73 views

What is the grammatical function of 當 and 自 in 爾男子,當自警 ?

Two lines from 三字經 are 爾男子,當自警. I understand 爾男子 as "you boys" as if asking for attention by adressing them. 警 is to warn or to guard or being in a state of attentive observation. Now as for 當 and 自 ...
4
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5answers
246 views

Is 起 too formal to use in day to day writing?

I read recently in a piece of poetry the sentence ”从明天起, 我会做一个幸福的人“ - what is the difference between this and, say, "从明天开始?“. Is 起 significantly more formal? Could I use it in day to day writing? ...
1
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1answer
99 views

In which ways can I express “to make s.o. jump” ?

I would like to know if there are different ways in Mandarin or Cantonese to express the causative, examplified by the help of the sentence "to make s.o. jump".
2
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1answer
98 views

Asking Someone How Their Chinese Studies Are Going

I have a friend who has started learning Mandarin, and I want to ask them how their Mandarin studies are going. The first phrase that comes to mind is this: 你中文学习得怎么样? I'm not sure, however, if 怎么样 ...
1
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3answers
199 views

Difference between 能 and verb + 得了(de liao3)

I remember once being told that there are differences in usage and meaning between 能 and verb + 得了. 他能来。 他不能来。 他来得了。 他来不了。 EDIT: Maybe my examples above weren't that good. Here are some new ones: ...
2
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2answers
105 views

Fill in the Blanks/Grammar error

两个队的分数_都很_近. The spaces are where words/phrases are supposed to go. Are there such words that fit in these spaces? I've been going through google trying to find similar sentence structures but to no ...
2
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2answers
137 views

Does this sentence follow the topic-comment pattern? 你家孩子真多

I think the following sentence has the topic-comment structure, but I'm not entirely sure if there is another grammar principle underlying it that I'm not seeing. The sentence is: 你家孩子真多! I ...
1
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2answers
209 views

What is meaning of the sentence 「夫非盡人之子與」?

夫非盡人之子與 I only understand this sentence from classical Chinese to a very low degree. 夫 could be some kind of sentence particle or simply mean "man". 非 and 與 often belong together, 非 negates ...
4
votes
1answer
251 views

What is the usage of 蔑 as a negation word in classical chinese?

I read someone mentioning 蔑 as a negation word in classical Chinese, but unfortunately without explaining how it works or an example sentence. So I looked it up in my dictionary and it only showed me ...
2
votes
1answer
98 views

What is the meaning of the phrase 铁血丹心 ?

This is the title of a famous wuxia-novel, whose full title is 射鵰英雄傳之鐵血丹心, it is also a the name of a Cantonese song. I have searched for an explanation of this phrase. I thought, maybe it is a ...
0
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3answers
231 views

How to make a tenseless sentence?

When making up a sentence in Chinese we all can make many types of mistakes. But I'm interested in one particular mistake, namely "a mistake that makes native Chinese speakers to wonder about the ...
0
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3answers
55 views

Does this translation of a sentence accurately capture the information and grammar of the original sentence?

Background I am currently trying to translate this sentence, which comes out of an informational flyer. “那就一定不要错过[北京留学生友会]即浖联会为新老同学们免费举办的[汽车知识讲座]”。 Attempt My attempt at a translation is this. ...
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3answers
181 views

What does “上千” + [something] mean?

For example: 上千苹果 Does that mean exactly one thousand apples, or over a thousand apples, or roughly a thousand apples, or up to a thousand apples?
5
votes
2answers
247 views

To 了 or not to 了

I'm Chinese learner and as everybody else I'm puzzled by the verbal aspect 了. My research into the subject gave such results: 了 belongs to a class of perfective aspect markers just as many other ...
2
votes
1answer
101 views

How to use correctly use 是否?

I'm not entirely sure what is suppose to follow 是否. For example, I'd like to say: I wasn't know (or wasn't sure) if you heard me clearly. I'm not sure if this is how it should be translated: ...
2
votes
4answers
158 views

Difficulty translating “makes”. How to translate this sentence:

I can't figure out how to translate this 对我来说,北方人的口音和语速makes it difficult for me to understand them. What's the best way to say this without losing any of the above meaning and structure?
1
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4answers
140 views

Word order question. Describing a rabbit's eyes

Forgive me for the newbie question. I've just begun learning about proper word order in Chinese sentences, and I was lead to believe that the "How" of the main verb in the sentence should always come ...
1
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3answers
195 views

What is the meaning of 看在 and 分上?

看在孩子的分上,夫妇二人没有离婚。 In the phrase above, what do they mean? Neither is found in a dictionary. The sentence is said to translate to "The pair would not divorce because of the children".
2
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1answer
126 views

What is the phrase for “sounds like” as in “it sounds like your dad is getting better”?

At first I thought I could use 听起来, but if I'm not mistaken this is only used for actual sound, not "you just told me your dad is back from the hospital, it sounds like he's getting better each day". ...
10
votes
4answers
1k views

Usage of word “sun”: 太阳 (tài yáng) vs 日 (rì)

What is the difference between 太阳 (tài yáng) and 日 (rì) for "sun"? Are they used in different contexts or are they interchangeable? Thanks!
7
votes
6answers
1k views

Usage of 一定 vs 当然

I recently had to select the correct answer for a homework assignment: 我学了10年汉语了,含有水平 。。。 很高 I chose 一定,but the correct answer turned out to be 当然 Was my answer incorrect, why? How do these ...
3
votes
1answer
240 views

Is '去+verb' similar to 'to infinitives' in English?

I am a collector. I collect sentences which I find interesting or exemplary for certain syntactical structures. I just stumbled over another example of this structure, so I thought I would ask the ...
5
votes
3answers
284 views

Indefinite article vs numeral: use of “一” (yī)

Sometimes, when the English has an indefinite article ("a", "an"), the Chinese translation has a numeral ("一", yī). So, for example, "I want to buy a ticket" sounds like "I want to buy one ticket". ...