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Can someone help me with these? I don't quite understand the topic-comment structure, and I have been trying to look it up but I can't find any good explanation with examples.

I have to change the following sentences so that they reflect the “topic-comment” structure. Can someone help me with these or just explain and send me on the right track?

Thanks in advance!

3.1 你复习昨天的语法了吗?

3.2 你买飞机票了吗?

3.3 你们都喜欢喝中国茶吗?

3.4 瑞典人都喜欢去日本吗?

3.5 你不习惯这儿的天气吗?

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    I do not sure it always like this, but i think just move the object to front is fine. For example, 飞机票你买了吗? – Dejavision May 18 '15 at 1:09
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In short, the topic-comment structure puts the topic you want to focus on in the beginning of a sentence, optionally followed by a comma, and the comment you want to make about the topic right after.

As Dejavision has mentioned, in all of your examples, the topic can be the object. (see note below) Thus, moving the object to the beginning would change the structure to topic-comment.

昨天的语法,你复习了吗?

飞机票,你买了吗?

中国茶,你们都喜欢喝吗?

日本,瑞典人都喜欢去吗?

这儿的天气,你不习惯吗?

Note

  • This trick does not always apply. The topic can surely be a subject as well.

Consider the following example:

這隻筆,顏色很好看。

As for this pen, the color is good-looking.

這隻筆 is both the subject and the topic.

  • Depending on the context, the same sentence may have more than one potential topic.

Consider the following example with possible context in parentheses:

(我知道美国大家都喜欢去。至于)日本,瑞典人都喜欢去吗?

(I know that everyone likes going to the States.) As for Japan, do all Swedish like going there?

and

(我知道很多亚洲人喜欢去日本。至于)瑞典人,都喜欢去日本吗?

(I know that many Asians like going to Japan.) As for Swedish, do all of them like going to Japan?

The two questions have different topics, thus different context, but are asking the same thing.

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  • Thank you for the help, I think I got the hang of it now, that made it very clear. I have another unrelated question, might as well ask it here instead of posting another question, is this the right way of saying "Will you return to Hong Kong with your family?" "你会回到香港跟你的家人吗?" – Tobias May 18 '15 at 2:42
  • @Tobias IMHO, it sounds much more natural to say "你会跟你的家人回到香港吗?" Your translation, by adding a 过 in the end, may be applicable in other context though, e.g. "你会回到香港跟你的家人过吗?" "Will you spend time with your family back in Hong Kong?" – Thomas Hsieh May 18 '15 at 3:28
  • the concept of topic-comment structure (话题说明型)is not even mentioned in some Chinese grammars,e。g。实用现代汉语语法(1005页)has no such item in its table of contents (目录) – user6065 May 18 '15 at 3:52
  • @S.Rhee I believe the structure is more like a writing tool instead of grammatical construct. You may be able to find it in writing techniques books. – NS.X. May 18 '15 at 4:39
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    It occurs in "Chinese A Comprehensive Grammar" a few times, but unlike Japanese it seems to be superfluous in explaining Chinese grammar – user6065 May 18 '15 at 5:02
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None of your sentences are theme-rheme examples. Topic-comment structure is characterized by defining what is talked about, then what we have to say about that thing.

A very simple example would be: 人多, or as for people, they are many.

A more regular example: 水果,我最喜欢香蕉, first introducing fruits as the topic, then elaborating on it. As for fruits, I prefer bananas.

You could also use temporal or spatial topics, such as: 今天我没洗澡 (as for today, I didn't take a shower) or 在宿舍里有很多漂亮的女孩儿 (as for the dorms, there are many pretty girls).

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  • 1
    Could you just use 关于"thing",。。。for all the sentences? Like, “关于昨天的语法,你复习了吗?” – Ming May 18 '15 at 2:37

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