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

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4
votes
2answers
224 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 ...
2
votes
4answers
157 views

How to ask “is it really so that…”?

How do I ask a question like "is it really so that you're just 18?" or "is it really so that the movie was good?", i.e. a surprised question? My guess is something along the lines of "这是真的,你只有十八岁呢?", ...
2
votes
1answer
98 views

Usage of 感动 (active/passive?)

According to mdbg.net 感动 means both 'to move (emotionally)' and 'moving'. But from what I understand from some texts I have '邻居们都很感动' implying a more passive meaning for 感动. Can someone shed some ...
4
votes
1answer
289 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. ...
4
votes
3answers
174 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
129 views

Are 平常 and 通常 essentially interchangeable?

In a few of my entries on Lang-8.com, several of my Chinese friends have changed 平常 into 通常 and vice versa without providing additional explanation. It it just a matter of personal taste?
3
votes
1answer
132 views

Example of using 吧 in conversation

My textbook explains that 吧 is a modal particle, but I'm not a linguist and the "modal particle" article on Wikipedia didn't help. Can you give examples of using 吧 in conversation?
4
votes
5answers
160 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
1answer
120 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?
1
vote
4answers
164 views

很 and 最 - Questions of The Context

很 means very. 最 means truly, really. I was wondering in which context they would be most appropriate. 我最喜欢去组约。- I'd really like to go to New York. So 最 can be used as a descriptor in this ...
4
votes
4answers
229 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."
4
votes
6answers
269 views

How to parse 没得 + Verb constructions

I've heard phrases of the form 没得V, where V is a verb. Sometimes, the 没得 appears to function like 没, e.g., 我没得选: I don't have a choice. Sometimes, it appears to function like a softer, ...
1
vote
3answers
156 views

How to correctly order the words in this sentence?

This is a question from an exercise book that I'm currently working through, to rearrange the given words into the correct order. I believe the format is along the lines of "The person who was [doing ...
8
votes
2answers
402 views

Using 的 at the end of a sentence

I'm looking for confirmation of the way I'm parsing a sentence with 的 at the end, and I'd appreciate some background or other examples of this usage. I found this sentence on tatoeba.org: ...
3
votes
1answer
86 views

What is the difference, if any, between 即使 and 無論?

Is a big difference between 即使 and 無論? I was working on a couple of fill-in-the-blanks exercises and the following sentence came up: 你的畫很有特色,(blank)是畫家也不一定能畫德比你好。 I think the right answer ...
2
votes
2answers
147 views
2
votes
3answers
104 views

Ways to say “more”

I know a few ways to say "more" or "in addition", and I'm wondering which to use when translating this sentence. I came across the following English sentence and its Chinese translation on ...
4
votes
4answers
176 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 ...
10
votes
5answers
304 views

Difference between 如果 and 要是?

In the Pimsleur Mandarin course it uses 如果 (rúguǒ) to mean 'if', but the dictionary shows 要是 (yàoshì) to have a similar meaning: 如果: if; in case; in the event that 要是: if Are there any ...
6
votes
3answers
301 views

What is the difference between 一只狗 and 一条狗?

I've been told by native speakers that the former refers to little dogs while the latter is for bigger dogs. I also have been told that the latter has a negative connotation. I'm wondering: how ...
13
votes
1answer
261 views

What is the difference in use between 以及, 和 and 与?

I have a book with the following lesson titles: 中文以及中国 聚会和饮食 交通与环境 Why are these terms connected with 以及 / 和 / 与, why not always use 和 for example? Are there any rules for proper use of these ...
7
votes
3answers
510 views

Why does the construction of 要是…的话 mean “if”?

I know other words like 如果 also provide the "if", but why would 要是...的话 mean "if"? An example sentence: 要是你喜欢汉语(的话),你该听中国的音乐。 If you like Chinese, you should listen to Chinese music.
6
votes
3answers
154 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
128 views

Why can't 了 be used to complement 到?

I have been taught that the sentence 我刚到了 (wǒ gāng dào le) is not correct because 了 cannot be used as a complement of 到. Is this true? If so, why?
8
votes
2answers
134 views

Using 一样 instead of 同一 for “the same school”

In my study software, I recently had the following sentence: 我想我们会上一样的学校. The context (a girl speaking to another girl who had just moved into the neighborhood) made it seem like the correct ...
9
votes
2answers
225 views

Why is it possible to replace 都 with 也 in 什么都没有?

I know 也 only as "also", but I see it now and then used in ways difficult to understand, especially in some negative statements. Why is this so? Does 也 have some meaning not mentioned in dictionaries ...
7
votes
2answers
1k views

What software can detect the parts of speech of written text?

What software or On-line tools can detect the parts of speech in a piece of written text (e.g. to predict if a word is a verb, adjective, etc.)?
4
votes
1answer
175 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: ...
3
votes
1answer
745 views

What software can check for grammar mistakes?

I need some software that can check the grammar of some Chinese passages. Are there any programs capable of identifying problems? I'd prefer something for Linux, but other platforms would be okay too. ...
13
votes
2answers
495 views

How do I decide whether to use 還是/还是 or 或者

還是/还是 (háishì) and 或者 (huòzhě) seem to have very similar meanings: 還是/还是: or; still; nevertheless 或者: or; possibly; maybe When I want to say 'or', how to I choose which to use, and are there ...
5
votes
4answers
155 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 ...
3
votes
3answers
198 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
136 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 do 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 ...
11
votes
2answers
261 views

How do I decide whether to use 可以, 会 or 能?

According to every dictionary I've seen so far, there is a big overlap in these: 可以 = can, may, be able to 会 = can, be able to, able 能 = can, may, able, capable How do I properly choose which one ...
3
votes
2answers
175 views

What are the most difficult things to learn for a westerner? [closed]

What aspects of the Chinese language are the most difficult to learn for a westerner? In particular I'm interested in thoughts on: What do you find are the main difficulties? Are there any aspects ...
12
votes
2answers
337 views

Tense and use of 了

I struggle a bit to get my head around tense 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?