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

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6
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5answers
94 views

What is the verbatim translation for “都什么时候了” ?

"什么时候" means verbatim "what time" But, when i add 都 (adverb meaning "all") and 了(particle indicating either change of state or completion), i can not grasp what meaning is conveyed by this phrase. ...
6
votes
2answers
487 views

Difference between 也都不 and 也不都

Are they same? 我们也都不是学生 - We also all not are students. 我们也不都是学生 - We also not all are students.
6
votes
3answers
409 views

Using 比 (bǐ) for comparison

I know how to use 比 in simple sentences like 哥哥比姐姐高 (my big brother is taller than my big sister) Would it be used for other sentences like You learn more words by listening than by ...
6
votes
3answers
324 views

份, 个, 本, 两: How do they function in these sentences?

I've been working with Rosetta Stone for about 2 weeks now, and due to the immersion (from the start, the entire program is entirely Chinese—no English anywhere), they don't do any explaining of ...
6
votes
3answers
242 views

What is the function of 的多 in this sentence?

中国人爱喝茶的多。 I assume the meaning is that "Chinese people love drinking tea a lot", or "...really love drinking tea." Does 的多 act as an adverbial structure here? In what other situations would it be ...
6
votes
3answers
164 views

Position of 面熟 in this sentence

In my textbook I found this sentence: 常常看着一个人面熟却叫不出名字来。 If 面熟 is an adjective, why is it used after 人 (to indicate a "familiar-looking person")? Can 一个人面熟 be rewritten to 一个面熟人 without ...
6
votes
2answers
412 views

Can 来 be used as a 虚词?

来 usually means "to come". In this sentence from an online database: 旱区人民需要我们的帮助来渡过难关 来 does not seem to me being used in its lexical meaning here, but rather containing a grammatical expression ...
6
votes
2answers
123 views

What is the proper word order when a sentence contains an adverb using 地 and a coverb phrase?

Can anyone provide some guidance on word order of a sentence if it has an adverb using 地 and coverb phrases. I thought 地 always came directly in front of the verb, but then I saw this site: ...
6
votes
2answers
231 views

Never understood the usage of 弄

I never understood the usage of 弄 for example in this sentence 婶婶找来几片叶子,给雪弄了一双耳环 why is there a 弄了? The sentence makes sense without it.
6
votes
1answer
448 views

What's the grammatical structure for “<subject> <verbs> like a <noun>” style simile in Chinese

I am fond of the simile structure "I eat like a wolf" or "The light flickered like a candle" in English. I never know how to express these thoughts in Chinese though, even if I know the underlying ...
6
votes
2answers
244 views

Questions on “的话”

What is the etymology behind "的话" in the common construct 如果...的话 or 要是...的话? In addition to wondering about it's meaning, what exactly is the 的 doing? Is it modifying the 如果? Is it modifying the ...
6
votes
2answers
144 views

Which measure word should I use with 角色?

Nciku tells me the proper measure word is 类, but a quick search on Google garnered mostly results like "哪类角色更容易赢“小金人”?“ implying that for the most part 类 is used when inquiring about a particular type ...
6
votes
1answer
377 views

What is the difference in usage between 以后 and 之后?

Today John Pasden linked to an old Sinosplice post in which he discussed how Chinese grammatical categories cannot be mapped neatly onto those of Indo-European languages. ...
6
votes
1answer
161 views

What is the pattern for 'instead of x, y…'

For example, how would I say, 'instead of x, we should do y'? I find it hard to balance the sentence correctly in chinese. Do I need to use, 反而 or 而且? Or is there some better method?
6
votes
1answer
57 views

When should I use the 是…的 construction?

I've been told that 是...的 is used to put emphasis on something, but I'm not sure when or why I should use it.
6
votes
1answer
328 views

Describing a person that can speak Mandarin

Yesterday I met a person that can speak Mandarin. We had a nice chat and I was going over it in my head today. I want to tell another friend that I met someone that can speak mandarin, but I'm having ...
6
votes
2answers
207 views

The mysterious role of 占 in a sentence

I know that 占 means "to occupy/to take up". But in this following sentence, I can not figure out what it adds to the meaning as a whole: "对占人口绝大多数的民众来说,还是觉得有钱应该省着花" If I take "zhan" away, ...
5
votes
6answers
2k views

How do you say the noun version of 'programmer'?

I know that a couple of variation of "coding" or programming are 编程, or 写代码. How would I refer to that person who does the coding/programming? Is it 编程家? or is there a more colloquial way of saying ...
5
votes
4answers
466 views

Difference between 常常 and 往往

I'm fairly certain I understand how to use 常常,but I don't know if 往往 is used any differently (they both have the same translations). Are there any differences in usage I should be aware of?
5
votes
3answers
687 views

How to say “being” as in “Being jewish”

I've always had some difficulty trying to translate the english "being" as in "being Christian" or "being American". I'd like to say "in the U.S. being Jewish isn't difficult." Should I say ...
5
votes
2answers
422 views

What does 二货朋友 mean?

Another Weibo post. This one has a lot that i dont understand. I think 有天二货朋友看到我的说说 Means “one day two friends said to me..." But that structure is very strange. I would have written 有一天两位朋友对我说。。。is ...
5
votes
4answers
373 views

Two “question words” in one sentence

One of my teachers asked us the example question: 你有什么安排吗? I asked her why there would be two "question words", 什么 and 吗, when I believed you should only have one question word (in this case, 吗 ...
5
votes
4answers
755 views

How to say “I'm finished”?

When we've finished doing something like I've finished (doing my homework) what we should say. Can we say 好了 "I'm finished"? (Hǎole) How about "are you finished"? Can we say "好了吗"?. (Hǎole ma)
5
votes
3answers
200 views

What is 和 used for in this sentence?

I know how to use 和 to link one or more nouns or noun phrases, but in this sentence I don't understand what purpose does it serve at the beginning of the sentence? 和西方人过圣诞节差不多,这是一个全家团聚的节日。 (This ...
5
votes
3answers
324 views

Sentence structure “I'm [doing something] because [reason]”?

I am familiar with the sentence structure "因为。。。所以。。。," but what is the correct way to say "I am [doing something] because [reason]"? For example, "I am asking this question because I am clueless." ...
5
votes
3answers
208 views

Clarification on 得 usage

My understanding of 的-地-得 is the same as what's here: 的-地-得, when do you use which? -- which is summarised as: “地” usually appears before the verb while “得” appears after the verb. However, I found a ...
5
votes
2answers
260 views

Errors and Unnatural Language in a Translation Challenge

I was recently challenged to translate the following sentence from English into Chinese: You should stay away from that bar. A friend of mine went there before, and he ended up in the hospital after ...
5
votes
4answers
279 views

What is the function of 了 in the sentence “她会杀了你的”?

What is the function of 了 in the following sentence? Does it imply a sequence of actions? 她会杀了你的。"She will kill you."
5
votes
2answers
96 views

Use of 不太 and when is it necessary?

I suspect that 太 has a similar function in negatives as 很 does in negative sentences. Some Chinese speakers have corrected some of my negative sentences in include a 太. e.g.: 他不高兴 was corrected to ...
5
votes
3answers
112 views

Is there a difference between 凡事 and 所有?

Recently, I've been reading a bit of 鲁迅 and I've run into the word 凡事 a number of times. Everytime, I see it translated it seems to mean 所有。 It seems to me that 凡事 is either an older usage or is much ...
5
votes
4answers
319 views

That mystical 就 again

Here is a sentence: 厨房壁炉架上的那面镜子就把哈利吓了一跳 Below are my translation variants. Bold letters should be a 'jiu' english analog here. The mirror on top of the kitchen's fireplace scared Harry the ...
5
votes
2answers
263 views

Difference between 两个都 and 我们俩

Pimsleur's Mandarin course teaches 'both of us' as 我们两个都 (wǒ men liăng ge dōu), but in another question I asked here I recently found that 我们俩 (wǒ men liă). Are these always interchangeable, or are ...
5
votes
1answer
61 views

what are common contractions in classical chinese?

I am searching for contractions in classical Chinese. for example: 而已 ---contracts-to---> 耳. Liebe Grüsse an die süsse Teresa!
5
votes
2answers
353 views

How to say “unsurprisingly” as in “Someone unsurprisingly did something”

I'm trying to figure out how to say unsurprisingly; I know that 果然 generally implies that you expect that something is going to happen, but in some contexts I'm not entirely sure if it is most ...
5
votes
3answers
146 views

Is 工作详细情况 similar to Work Experience?

I´m working with chinese resumes and I´ve found this expression "工作详细情况", I´d like to know if it could be translated as Work Experience. Is it the same? Could 工作详细情况 work as a work experience section ...
5
votes
2answers
151 views

Measure Word of 中药 and 西药

my doubt is simple... the correct Measure Word of: 中药 西药 Appreciate your time!
5
votes
2answers
233 views

How to explain the structure of “将在外,军令有所不受。”

In my own opinion, this sentence should be "将在外,军令不受". I can hardly imagine any use of "有" and "所" here. Could someone explain the structure of this sentence?
5
votes
3answers
239 views

What is the function of 已 in 好像她已出去好几天了。

What is the purpose of 已 in the following sentence? 好像她已出去好几天了。 The English translation given is: It looks as if she's gone away for a few days. Or is this an incorrect-character, supposed ...
5
votes
5answers
166 views

How to say “we want what is best for our kids”?

I'd like to say the above sentence. I can't think anything but the following sentence, but it just doesn't sit right with me somehow: 我们都要对我们的孩子最好. While the subject "what's best" in english ...
5
votes
2answers
106 views

Doesn't 被 mean “by”?

I've always thought of 被 as "by." I understand the following phrase means "deducted 10 points" but I don't understand the structure. Thanks for your help. 整整要被扣十分
5
votes
3answers
246 views

Can 曾 be used alone instead of 曾经?

曾经 has already been well explained here, but I sometimes see ...曾 verb... as opposed to ...曾经 verb... Is there a difference in meaning or usage?
5
votes
1answer
236 views

What does the classical construction X 何由 Y mean?

I almost never see this construction in classical prose. (In fact, I'll venture I've never seen it.) However, it's in two of my favorite poems. In this one, it's from the poem "晨詣超師院讀禪經" by 柳宗元: ...
5
votes
4answers
189 views

What comprehensive grammar books are available? [closed]

I have found many grammar books, but none that go beyond the low-intermediate level. Some textbook series contain lots of grammar, but this is spread out across many books and difficult to quickly ...
5
votes
1answer
542 views

How to say “A Person's Strength”

Is there a good translation for "strengths" in Chinese? I am trying to say strengths as in 'We should try to improve our strengths, not our weaknesses'. I know that 强项 is one phrase that has a ...
4
votes
4answers
485 views

How to use “whether” in Chinese - do you need to say 如果?

I've always had a bit of difficulty with statements with the term "whether" in Chinese. In this sentence I would like to say "I asked him whether or not he had met Mark." - I translated this in my ...
4
votes
7answers
395 views

When you use 在 with a time, where does 在 go in the sentence?

So, if I wanted to say, "Last week I saw my friend in Japan," where would the location (Japan) go in this sentence? I thought it would go like this: 在日本,我上个星期看朋友。 Is that correct or does the ...
4
votes
2answers
288 views

What's the difference between …的 and 所…的

I believe that both of these constructions create what is called a "subordinate clause". I know that 的 can be used to specify something like: 我喜欢的东西 (those things which I like), 很远的地方 (the place ...
4
votes
3answers
232 views

How does inserting 起来 into 请客 as in 请起客来 changes the meaning?

请客 is a verb-object-verbal phrase (联合词), therefore it is able to seperate both parts and put further structures in between. I read I could put 起 in between together with 来 at the end to form a so ...
4
votes
3answers
325 views

What is the function of the complement 下来 in 买下来?

I know 下来 so far as complement for verbs of motion, e.g. 跳下来,走下来,攀下来,掉下来. In them, the first character of the complement conveys the meaning "downwards", the second the point of view of the speaker ...
4
votes
3answers
189 views

How formal is 如何 in the context of 最近如何?

I was told by friend who is a native mainland speaker that "最近如何", or anything containing "如何", is a very ancient/formal way of speaking. This was quite a shock to me—I was taught this sentence ...