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 I am very unsure, what is their function in this sentence , how would you explain their grammatical roles in terms of English grammar (adverbs, particles,sth. else ? )

  • 3
    ccigf01.blogspot.com/search/label/… 當自警-> 應當自我警惕->应当自我警惕 Should be vigilant
    – user6065
    Oct 15, 2015 at 22:42
  • 1
    accepting the translation to modern language as 自我警惕 it might be noted that 自我+[transitive verb] usually means "transitive verb applied to self", e.g. 自我批评,...,自我防卫 (小马词典),but 警惕 according to iciba is not transitive,also there seem to be no examples in the various online 句库 (let alone dictionaries)for 自我警惕,there is an example for 警惕自我 in jukuu:Beware of no man more than thyself [yourself].最重要的是警惕自我。(which seems to use 警惕 transively),also see 警惕自我 - Video Results,esp。提高儿童自我保护意识 警惕可疑陌生人 (vigilant toward strangers)
    – user6065
    Oct 17, 2015 at 3:53
  • "警惕 according to iciba is not transitive"not true, in fact, first English equivalent is "be on guard against" with this example 警惕敌人的破坏, also note CCG, p.90:there are far more transitive than intransitive verbs in Chinese.Apart from those indicating posture (e.g.站,坐),body movement (e.g.跳,爬),emotion (笑,哭)and physical or chemical changes (e.g. 变,溶化),which are essentially intransitive, the great majority of action verbs are transitive in nature. Note also transitive use: 站住脚跟,坐火车旅行,坐公共汽车上班,跳过一两页,跳两针,跳绳,爬山[绳; 树],笑 "laugh at, ridicule",旱地变水田,
    – user6065
    Oct 18, 2015 at 0:00

1 Answer 1



當 = should / must

自警 = self-discipline

What do you think their grammatical roles are?

  • i do not know, first I thought both could be adverbs because they are right before the verb. Oct 16, 2015 at 0:32

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