I saw this in the subtitles of a TV show:


Why 给 is used in that sentence?

Without considering 给, I've translated it to:

My hand was bitten by an insect.

  • They have the same meaning. I cannot say there's a difference between them. Though I cannot answer why. – fefe May 22 '12 at 1:24
  • 我的手被虫子给咬了 = 我的手被虫子咬了 Your translation is correct. – coolcfan May 22 '12 at 2:18
  • To confuse you further: 我的手给虫子咬了. – deutschZuid May 22 '12 at 2:54
  • Let's add to the confusion: 我嘅手俾蚊咬咗. :-) – dda May 24 '12 at 13:42
  • @dda That's Cantonese, right? – dusan May 25 '12 at 0:45

给 is part of the passive structure of the sentence you've cited. It can be used before the verb either with or without another passive marker (like the neutral 被 or the colloquial 让 or 叫). It doesn't change the meaning of the sentence though, as dacongy mentioned, it can add emphasis.

Here are some example sentences:

The clothes were dirtied by him.

The glass was broken by me.

Confusingly, 给, like 叫 and 让, can also be used as a passive marker by itself in sentences like the following

The door was blown open by the wind.

The children were given a beating by their mother.

In the above sentences, 给 could be replaced with 叫, 让, or 被 with no change in meaning. (The register and regional flavor will be slightly different.)

This paper, "北京话“给”字被动句的地位及其历史发展 (PDF)", which I haven't yet had a chance to read, analyzes the use of 给 in passive sentences (被动句) in Beijing dialect. I skimmed the abstract and it seemed like it might be illuminating.


They are almost the same, and in most cases it only depends on what prefer to say. But one small piece of difference that I, as a native speaker, can sense is that: the one without 给 sounds more flat, meaning that the one who says it doesn't treat it like a big deal; the one with 给 seems a bit stronger. If you know the pronunciation, you can try to read them out loud, and feel the difference.

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