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

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2
votes
1answer
53 views

Questions about the meaning and position of 一下

My textbook gives me the following two examples of 一下, saying that the 一下 in each sentence doesn't mean the same thing: 你去问一下老师 (Just ask your teacher) 我打了孩子一下 (I smacked my child) Question 1. I'd ...
1
vote
3answers
116 views

The correct usage of 大约 vs. 差不多

I am a bit confused by the appropriate use of 大约 and 差不多. I have learned to use 差不多 in many cases where I am talking about an approximate amount, value, extent, etc. of something, or speaking about ...
1
vote
3answers
148 views

Translation of 这里开了家医院

I found a translation of 这里开了家医院 to "There is a hospital here" but this translation seems to ignore the word 开了。 Does the word 开了 add addition meaning to the sentence which the translation does not ...
1
vote
3answers
113 views

Questions about 时量补语

I'm learning about Chinese complement of time-measurement (时量补语). It sounds very tough though, and I'm now stuck on some sentences like: 她学汉语要学一年 我看电影只看了十分钟 My textbook doesn't explain a rule ...
0
votes
1answer
124 views

她离开了三年了 vs. 她离开三年了 Is there any difference between the two?

她离开了三年了 她离开三年了 My two different textbooks say those two sentences respectively for the one same meaning: "It's been three years since she left." but I'm still not sure because my books are too old ...
2
votes
1answer
97 views

How is 着 pronounced here?

In Mo Yan's Red Sorghum there is a line saying: 曾外祖母做了好饭好菜,说着甜言蜜语, The meaning is clear, and could be translated either "Greatgrandmother made good foods and said honeyed words" or "Greatgrandmother ...
1
vote
9answers
304 views

Why “校车来了“, not ”校车来着“ and ”校车正来"?

My question is as the title. The sentence "school bus is coming" is translated as "校车来了". I understand this translation because "了" here indicates a new situation. But why are "校车来着" or "校车正来" WRONG? ...
-2
votes
2answers
140 views

Where do I put adverbial expressions and other phrases in a sentence?

I know Chinese use the sequence S O V. I also know place follows time, for instance in these ways: t(ime), p(lace) S tp V O tp S V O t S p V O Where do I put further phrases, like adverbial ...
2
votes
5answers
156 views

What does 你要买点儿什么? mean exactly? (吗 question vs. Wh- question)

I already learned that Chinese wh- questions don't require a 吗 particle but I got stuck on this sentence: 你要买点儿什么? Which does the sentence mean, "what will you buy?" or "will you buy ...
7
votes
7answers
1k views

Is it correct to say “在手机”?

Would it be correct to use the phrase "在手机”/“在手机上” etc. to express that I am doing something on my phone? For example, could I say 我听音乐在我的手机上。 Or can 在 only be used for my actual physical ...
0
votes
0answers
108 views

comparing 我一个弟兄们 with 我的一个兄弟

«听审现场»20151226 谁在说谎 (好象更早期广播的重播) http://cctv.cntv.cn/lm/tingshenxianchang/index.shtml,civil case plaintiff 李付成 at time mark 01:42 says: 我一个弟兄们(有三间老房子), would 我的一个兄弟 (or at least 我的一个弟兄) not be more ...
1
vote
4answers
170 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
votes
7answers
213 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
207 views

A Golden Rule for When Chinese Repeat a Word Twice X Twice? 热热闹闹

I have come across several times reading Chinese that they repeat words twice and then again. For an Instance what is the difference between 热闹 and 热热闹闹 ? what is the grammar meaning when words get ...
6
votes
3answers
404 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
votes
2answers
137 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
370 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
vote
2answers
121 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
vote
1answer
69 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 ...
1
vote
7answers
350 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
votes
6answers
457 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
votes
5answers
236 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
votes
2answers
170 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
votes
3answers
842 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
vote
2answers
98 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
230 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 ...
0
votes
2answers
66 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
votes
4answers
951 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
81 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
124 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
288 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
158 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
62 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
256 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
167 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
163 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
98 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
85 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
87 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
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
votes
5answers
234 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
96 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".
0
votes
1answer
43 views

What is the meaning of 貪人之有者殘 ?

貪人之有者殘 is a phrase from 素書, I am not able to understand the grammatical structure of this sentence. for instance: 貪 does it mean greedy or make s.o. greedy, or consider s.o. greedy , or greed ...
2
votes
1answer
95 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
168 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
99 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
129 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
201 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
242 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
86 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 ...