3

不能实现梦想的人都有一个共通之处,那就是:想要一样东西,却怎么也不愿意为之付出

I do not understand the usage of 之 here. What does 之处 and 为之付出 mean? Thank you.

8

The former 之 is equivalent to 的, but more often used than 的 when followed by a single character that would otherwise be expressed in a two-character word. In this case, it is followed by 处, which means “place” 地方 and by extension “aspect” 特征. Thus, the first part of the sentence means word-by-word "People who cannot realize their dreams are the same in one aspect(characteristic)," or more in more appropriate English "Those who fail to realize their dreams have one thing in common,"

The latter 之 has a different meaning, as is common in classical Chinese (文言). It is the third person pronoun in the objective case, meaning that it should only be used in place of 他/她/它 when the thing in question is the object of the sentence, much like "him" instead of "he" in English. Therefore, 为之付出 means to "pay effort for it".

More examples of 之 as a third person objective pronoun

  • 以渔 (classical) "Teach them with fishing" = "Teach them the art of fishing."
  • 磨碎 “grind it into chunks/powder/etc", equivalent to 把它磨碎, note that 将 is always used instead of 把 before 之.
  • 有过则改 (proverb) "Have a fault, then change it" = "If you made a fault, mend it".
  • 投我以桃,报以李 (proverb) "Give me with peaches, return them with plums" = "They give me peaches, I return them the favor with plums."
  • That is very interesting. Chinese has oblique case. Do you have any other words only used in the oblique case? – Pedroski Mar 14 '15 at 22:45
  • Thanks for the great answer @busukxuan. Can yiu five some more examples of thhe latter case? I am not sure I fully understand. Also, Is this strictly written language or do people use this in spoken language? Thanks – rabbid Mar 15 '15 at 1:05
  • @Pedroski what is oblique case? – NS.X. Mar 15 '15 at 5:28
  • 1
    Another way of saying accusative. Some people don't like to say English has Nominative and Accusative case, so they say 'oblique case'. Old English had the same case structure as Modern German. – Pedroski Mar 15 '15 at 7:55
  • 1
    @Pedroski I don't have any other example, but what's more interesting, there is a genitive/possessive third person pronoun 其 also often used in classical Chinese. For example, 其心可诛 "their hearts ought to be destroyed" = "having such evil/bad thoughts, they ought to be punished/killed"; 不解其意 "do not resolve/understand its meaning". By the way, I don't suppose the oblique case is equivalent to the accusative case. Both English and Chinese oblique cases include the dative case as well. – busukxuan Mar 15 '15 at 8:45
1

之 has many use cases, these two are used to denote a property and an article like "it", or "that".

The literal translation for these 2 4-character phrase.

  • 共通之处 -- something in common / somewhere in common

    • 共通 "common"
    • 之 (in which)
    • 处 thing / places
  • 为之付出 devote for it

    • 为之 "for it"
    • 付出 "devotion"

In the case of "共通之处", "之" seems to contribute no meaning and can be removed, since "共通处" could be used to mean also the same thing. This can happen sometimes when the speaker/writer is just adding the character as a structure support, and/or maybe to disambiguate. Since 4-character idioms are very commonly used like units of sentence making.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.