The agent says the customer should insure all risks, he wants normal insurance.

Agent: 万一货物出了问题,就有可能因为投错了险而无法得到赔偿,那麻烦就大了。

I imagine '投了险' is short for '投保了保险' and I thought '错‘ is an adjective for ‘险’ (= take out 了 (the wrong) insurance), such that I really have '投保了错的保险’. But 外语教学与研究出版社, FLTRP, in their wisdom have written '投错了险'.

Can I push the 了 back a space and write '投了错的险‘, or is 投错 somehow a word??

4 Answers 4

  1. “投错了险” is an informal expression.
  2. It is generated from the phrase: "买保险“.
  3. the evolution chain: "买保险” →“买错保险”(negative form,“错”here is a "verbal complimentary", which showing the result of an action "买”。)→“买错了保险”加上了tense particle “了”→“买” can be accepted when to be replaced by "投” in a context of a casual email. "保” of “保险” can be omitted too in this context.
  4. "le" has to be put after "complimentary". So, 投了错的险 is wrong.
  5. why people use "投” instead of "买”? In recent years, more and more people changed idea of buying insurance for accidents to a type of investment. And "investment" in Chinese is “投资”。 So some people say "投保险“。—— I personally don't like it. This just shows how people become careless about the use of words instead of using innovative new words.
  1. In '投错了险', '错' is not an adjective to '险', it is a sumplement to '投'

  2. '投了错的险' is also correct. In this case, '错' is an adjective to '险'

  • Can you elaborate how that supplement works? You mean it is an adverb? Should it be '投地错了险‘ or ‘投得错了险’??
    – Pedroski
    Jan 15, 2015 at 4:47
  • @Pedroski Verb+错 is a common pattern for 'mis~', like 看错 means 'misread', 记错 means 'misremember', so 投错了险 means 'got the (wrong) policy by mistake' where 错 means 'mistake', while 投了错的险 means 'got the wrong policy' where 错 means 'wrong'. As fefe said 错 is supplement to the verb, so grammatically speaking it's '投得错' but no one is saying that way.
    – NS.X.
    Jan 15, 2015 at 5:45
  • Thanks, I‘ll remember that! In fact I do often need to say '看错了‘ when I am trying to read Chinese! Didn't think about it till now! Haha! You know the joke about the Japanese in China? He reads '中国人民银行‘ as '中国人民很好‘ '中国建设很好‘ 等等 and wonders why the Chinese are so proud!
    – Pedroski
    Jan 15, 2015 at 6:48
  • 1
    should be '很行‘ of course!
    – Pedroski
    Jan 15, 2015 at 9:27

What you imagined "投了错险" is grammatically right and be able to be understand by every Chinese.

But "投错了险" is the form spoken by us Chinese everyday. It is nothing to do with your understanding of each word's role, but just word turn.

And obviously, you translated "take out the wrong insurance" word by word, turn by turn. That's the reason why you think it should be translated like "投了错险".

You cannot translate the sentence form a language to an other language word by word, turn by turn. Each language has its word turn.

In fact, at the time that written Chinese and spoken Chinese are using different grammar (it's not much long time ago, just about 100 years), "投错险" would be a wildly received form in written Chinese (though there were no insurance industry in China at that time). And literally, it means "take out the wrong insurance".

"投了错的险" is also grammatically right but little hard to be understood. And the best form is "投了错的保险". In the phrase "投了错的险", "险" might be thought of "dangerous" firstly because the verb "投" is too far away from it, and people might be not able to connect the verb "投" with the noun "险" immediately.

"投错" is a phrase which means "take the wrong ..." at the most time, but not a word.

Plus. It don't think a Japanese would confuse "银行" and "很行". Because "bank" in Japanese also is "銀行" -- the same to Chinese -- just written in traditional Chinese characters.


If you say 投了错的保险, in fact it has the same meaning with 投错了险 in Chinese. Maybe the right way to say express this meaning is 投了错的保险,but most people in China were used to say 投错了险.It was different from the English,when the 错 appear,we will naturally know it was with the 险,not the 投。It was our habit of grammer.

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