In the past few days I read through half of the excellent grammar book by Claudia Ross and Jing-heng Sheng Ma and all of the very enlightening "Aquisition of Word Order in Chinese as a Foreign Language" by Wenying Jiang (I recommend reading both). One of the things that the first book really managed to clear up for me was that the traditional Western grammar terms don't really transfer over to Chinese. A lot of the questions I've had about the language after studying it for several years were cleared up by learning about how stative verbs, open-ended action verbs, change-of-state action verbs, adjectival verbs, complements, etc. are used in quite different ways in Chinese.

The problem is, when I go look up a word in a dictionary, at most it's gonna say "verb" or "adjective", which isn't very helpful to me. I know that I can just translate "adjective" to "adjectival verb", but I wish the dictionary took into account the unique structure of Chinese grammar, rather than presenting simple, familiar terms.

So my question is: are there any Chinese-English dictionaries that provide a, shall we say, less eurocentric grammar?

  • "adjectival verb"seems to be a term adopted by the authors Claudia Ross and Jing-heng Sheng Ma of the textbook available free on the web,hardly used elsewhere, to call readers' attention to the absence of link verb "是",when used predicatively, which incidentally also applies to such European languages as Russian (not necessarily other Slavic languages). Chinese grammars still call it 形容词,adjective。 – user6065 Sep 14 '16 at 16:51
  • Exactly what is expected of such a more detailed dictionary?As far as different types of verbs are concerned, these can be recognized from definition given in the praised text. As far as complements are concerned, grammar tells how to recognize and construct them. 对这样更为详尽的词典的要求到底是什么?就动词不同种类而言,为了识别这些动词,就够使用受到提问者的赞扬的课本中的定义了。就补语而言,语法也会说明怎样识别而构造。 – user6065 Sep 15 '16 at 5:43
  • The reason I gave "adjectival verb" as an example, was to show that ordinary dictionaries are fine for that particular aspect. It's all of the other terms I was missing. – Simon Gray Sep 16 '16 at 12:06

I asked the same question on Reddit and was recommended the ABC Chinese-English dictionary. It uses many of the terms I have outlined by design.

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    "terms outlined by design": stative verbs, open-ended action verbs, change-of-state action verbs, adjectival verbs, complements, it seems dictionary not to merely say a, v, but where appropriate uses one of the above terms, it seems quoted types have an easily recognized characterization making such notation questionable, as far as complements (word or phrase attached to a verb or adjective predicate to complete the meaning ...) are concerned, it seems all that could be expected is giving examples where words in dictionary (of which there are many) are commonly used to form complements. – user6065 Sep 16 '16 at 12:01
  • Sorry, but I'm having a bit of a hard time trying to understand what you wrote. Regardless, this dictionary solves my problem, so I'm happy with it. – Simon Gray Sep 16 '16 at 12:04
  • comments are restricted in length, therefore users using comments often feel obliged to omit words, in order to only use one comment space – user6065 Sep 16 '16 at 13:02
  • for other users' info: ABC C-E dictionary contains the following 4 abbreviations related to verbs: v. 动词 verb, rv. resultative v. 动补式,vp. verb phrase 动词词组,vo. verb-object 动宾离合词,none of the terms " stative verbs, open-ended action verbs, change-of-state action verbs" mentioned in Q among them, reference to (resultative) complement, however is implicit in rv. verb-complement construction e.g. 看见, after long search user found one entry with vp.:扫地出门, – user6065 Sep 16 '16 at 16:57
  • using the definition "the component of a sentence that contains the verb and an object" would yield many more, e.g. 扫地.耕地/田,交税 which are in ABC with notation "vo."only, 付钱 is not, readers are reminded that their "vo." means a special type of verb-object construction, namely 离合词。 – user6065 Sep 16 '16 at 16:57

The online dictionary Wiktionary (a brother of Wikipedia) offers some usage notes and technical information on individual words, and they have a knowledgeable and active Chinese userbase. Some entries are a bit spotty, but you can expect most of them to be pretty good.

  • It's ok as a dictionary, but doesn't solve this specific issue. – Simon Gray Sep 16 '16 at 12:10

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