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

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19
votes
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
vote
3answers
92 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
129 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
308 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
votes
4answers
167 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
1
vote
2answers
70 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
vote
5answers
266 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
votes
5answers
173 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
vote
4answers
179 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?
1
vote
3answers
107 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
votes
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
votes
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
votes
1answer
75 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
votes
5answers
260 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
vote
1answer
101 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
votes
1answer
112 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
vote
3answers
221 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
votes
2answers
114 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
votes
2answers
139 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
vote
2answers
213 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 a ...
4
votes
1answer
253 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
105 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
votes
3answers
266 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
votes
3answers
59 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. "...
1
vote
3answers
187 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
258 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
105 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
168 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
vote
4answers
148 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
vote
3answers
214 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
votes
1answer
147 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
276 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
319 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". ...
0
votes
1answer
127 views

When should I use “很” before an adjective? [duplicate]

Very early in the process of learning Chinese as a foreign language we are taught: 我是好 is incorrect because 是 is only used before nouns and 好 is not a noun. 我很好 is the correct way to say the former ...
5
votes
1answer
209 views

When “to be” should be used? When omitted?

There are cases in which "to be" is translated with 是 ( shì ), while in some other cases it seems not to be translated at all. When should 是 ( shì ) be used? When omitted? Here some examples: 我很好 wo ...
1
vote
1answer
59 views

Breaking a sentence into grammatical structures

There's a very robust deck of Anki flash cards I've been using to build vocabulary. But sometimes I get stuck when new grammatical constructs are shown. The deck says 你想走的时候就走吧。 is translated "Go ...
1
vote
1answer
51 views

Verbs of two words

In 你想走的时候就走吧。 it seems 的就 is supposed to be taken as the verb. At my current knowledge level, I wouldn't know how to match those two together and recognize 时候 as modifying the verb. How can I learn ...
1
vote
2answers
91 views

The grammar of 实事求是的石

I actually want a tongue twister for practice. But I want one that could be a Chinese sentence. Is the following at all acceptable as way to say "This is the 'seek truth through facts' rock"? ...
3
votes
4answers
166 views

Meaning of 嘛 in this context?

台灣都嘛是做小成本人文電影 I was wondering how 嘛 is used in this sentence. I think the sentence could be translated as something like "Taiwan only makes low-cost movies about the humanities."?
2
votes
1answer
92 views

Usage of 一边 (doing things simultaneously)?

Is this the correct way of saying "she is taking a bath while listening to music"? 她一边洗澡,一边听音乐。
2
votes
1answer
226 views

Difference between 只,之, and 支?

I'm a native speaker but I don't know the first thing about writing Chinese, on Rosetta stone we were shown 一支笔 and 一只狗, whats the difference and where and when do you use each one?
6
votes
2answers
712 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.
0
votes
2answers
75 views

What's the difference between 许多 and 很多? [duplicate]

What's the difference between 许多 and 很多? I have learned that 许多 can't be used as predicate yet in this sentence it seems to have a predicative function 他觉得妻子虽然老了许多 但仍很美丽
4
votes
4answers
175 views

What is the difference between 好多 vs. 很多?

I'm an ABC and I find myself often using 好多. I was talking to my dad yesterday and I noticed that I said it, but something just didn't seem right. Is this correct or does it not make any sense? I'm ...
2
votes
2answers
82 views

他很慢地走: why there is 地 if the adjective is monosyllabic?

I can't use 地 after the adjective if the adjective is monosyllabic (他慢地走 isn't acceptable. Then why in this sentence is there 地 after a monosyllabic adjective? 他很慢地走 Is it because I can use 地 if ...
3
votes
3answers
181 views

The usage of 有 in comparisons

The verb 有 can be used to form a sentence in a way of comparisons of equality as follows. (as ~ as) 今天有昨天热。Today is as hot as yesterday. 他没有你细心。He is not as careful as you. From looking at ...
1
vote
4answers
297 views

How to use 像…似的?

Can someone explain me the comparison structure 像 … 似的? Why in this sentence there is 得 after 红? 他脸红得苹果似的 Couldn't I have said this instead? 他的脸红像苹果似的 Is there a pattern/scheme that I ...
0
votes
3answers
110 views

What Different Patterns Are There To Make 不如 Sentences?

A 不如 B+object+verb+得+adjective example: 玛丽不如保罗法语说得流利 A 不如 B+Verb-object+verb+得+adjective example: 玛丽不如保罗说法语说得流利 Are these two patterns correct? Some say it's correct, some says it's wrong,...