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

learn more… | top users | synonyms

6
votes
5answers
615 views

Could you explain the structure of this sentence?

The sentence 我吃饭的时候看了一本书。 apparently has two verbs (吃 and 看), but I can’t see how the two actions are correlated. Could anyone explain that?
6
votes
4answers
207 views

How to indicate plurality/singularity

I'm aware that basic Chinese grammar tends to lack distinction between the plural and singular forms of many nouns. For example, 我的朋友是中国人 could either mean "my friend is Chinese" (singular) or "my ...
6
votes
5answers
428 views

How to correctly use 恐怕

According to Pleco, 恐怕 has 2 definitions fear; dread; be afraid of perhaps; probably; maybe The second definition is what I am struggling with. I was taught that it is similar to 也许, but ...
6
votes
4answers
244 views

求解释: “我有问题” 和 “我有个问题” 中英 | Chinese & English

这个问题我找不到解释, 希望哪位高手可以帮下 ^^ 学生想说 I have a question, 常常会说成 "我有问题." 我会教他们用 “我有个问题” 或者 “我有一个问题。” 原因是听到 “我有问题”的时候, 我的第一联想就是 “我脑子有问题。" 可是我语法上面解释不来也查不到。 现在我自己都快糊涂了。 所以我想问: 1) “我有问题” 是正确的吗? 我左看右看都觉得是错的。 ...
6
votes
4answers
226 views

Why should I use 由 here and not 被?

I could choose 由 or 被. Why should I choose 由? Are there any good reasons for this choice? 这件事 _______ 公司负责。My girlfriend immediately said 由, but she couldn't say why. Considering the answers below ...
6
votes
5answers
158 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
545 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
250 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
541 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
151 views

Quotation Marks (“”) and Angle Quotation Marks (《》)

Based on my recent observation, most people use "" to enclose a quote and use 《》 to enclose the name of a book (or a movie?). However, since I began my Chinese study, I have been learning to use 「」 as ...
6
votes
3answers
169 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
435 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
1answer
286 views

Macau Cantonese, any differences from HK?

Does anyone know how Cantonese from Macau differ from HK if there are any? Any slangs or terms used in Macanese Cantonese that is rarely used or heard in HK? Maybe some sinicised portuguese words? ...
6
votes
2answers
144 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
327 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
586 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
1answer
94 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
2answers
247 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
148 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
459 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
319 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
384 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
238 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
626 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
720 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
4answers
641 views

When to use “们”

In Chinese, using "们" after a noun is, in some sense, equivalent to adding an "s" after an English word. Yet I find the rules in Chinese of using 们 to be very puzzling; I am a native speaker yet I ...
5
votes
5answers
358 views

which do I use , 喜欢不喜欢 or 喜不喜欢?

I know that 喜不喜欢 and 喜欢不喜欢 have the same meaning, but in a sentence, which would look more appealing or make more sense in the sentence? In other words, which one is grammatically correct?
5
votes
2answers
570 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
5answers
318 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
177 views

How do you ask how old a building is?

I know to say to a person how old they are you can say "你多大" or "你几岁". But, how could you express "how old is this building?" Would you say "这楼有几年的历史?" Or would that only be used for something grand ...
5
votes
4answers
422 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
2k 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
5answers
185 views

What is the role of 都 in this sentence?

What is the role of 都 in this sentence? 你网上小店都卖什么东西啊? Should I read: 你卖 = you sell 你的小店卖 = your little shop sells 都卖 = all sell 你和你的小店都卖 = you and your little shop both sell Basically, who is the ...
5
votes
3answers
462 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
228 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
282 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
2answers
104 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
130 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
3answers
286 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
4answers
333 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
323 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
94 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
383 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
151 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
163 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
3answers
241 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
173 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
122 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
282 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?