6

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 of finality "in order to".

Am i wrong, or is this a different usage of it?

  • 虚词 is difficult to me, but I think it's a different usage, to express the following phrase as the aim. – songyuanyao Nov 19 '14 at 1:33
6

ABC calls this a 连词, which they explain like this:

Conjunction

Liáncí 连词

A conjunction is a word that joins phrases or sentences together to form a larger sentence or chunk of thought. Some examples include érqiě 'furthermore', suīrán 'although', suǒyǐ 'therefore', jiù 'then' and yàoburán 'otherwise'.

here's ABC's relative entry for 来:

CONJ.(in order) to

唱个歌儿来凑热闹

chàng ge gēr lái còu rènao

sing a song to liven things

Here's some other examples from the A Chinese English Dictionary:

7 (used between a verbal expression and a verb or between two verbal expressions) in order to

大家想办法来解决。

Dàjiā xiǎng bànfǎ lái jiějué.

Let's think of a way to solve the problem.

我们得尽一切力量来完成计划。

Wǒmen děi jìn yīqiè lìliang lái wánchéng jìhuà.

We must do all we can to implement the plan.

你又能用什么理由来说服他呢?

Nǐ yòu néng yòng shénme lǐyóu lái shuōfú tā ne?

And what arguments can you use to convince him?

  • What is "ABC" ? – meireikei Nov 19 '14 at 2:30
  • The ABC Chinese-English Dictionary - an essential for English speakers learning Chinese, no matter what level. – user3306356 Nov 19 '14 at 2:33
  • 1
    Agree with this answer, and 连词 is a type of 虚词, to strictly answer OP's question. – NS.X. Nov 19 '14 at 2:59
1

The summary of 来's usage, as a complement to user3306356's answer.

You can use 来 as a concrete verb, as in 奥巴马来北京见维尼熊, which you already know.

Less concrete it is when 来 is used in some verb serializations, as in 过来, 上来, the main verb is 过 or 上, 来 only functions as an indication of "towards me". Sometimes 来 is used metaphorically, as in 我醒来了.

Even less concrete is in 让我来问一个问题吧. You don't literally "come" to ask the question, but 来 grabs your attention and gives you a sense of what is about to come. This falls into the 虚词 category.

In your example 来 indicates a purpose, and it also falls into the 虚词 category. If you think like a linguist, you can see the relation between "in order to" and "to come".

There are even less concrete cases:

  • 这个人三十来岁。--来 means "about".

  • 一来脑子好,二来动作快。——来 is put after a number to indicate that you are enumerating.

  • 我吃饭来。——来 is put after an action to indicate the past present tense. You see 来着 more often, but sometimes 来 is also used.

  • 八月里来桂花香。——来 means nothing. It's just a 语气助词. You use it to glue things together. It is less common in mandarin, but commonly seen in lyrics and some dialects.

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