The general syntax of a serial verb construction sentence type is:

S VP1 VP2 VP3...

wherein S stands for Subject and VP for verbal phrase.

As far as I know, the sequence of verbal phrases express an event in a detailed way.

But is the relationship between the verbal phrases just temporal, i.e. do the verbal phrases describe an event temporally in the sequence of their appearance?

For example:

我 看水果 切水果 愉快地吃水果 .

I see a watermelon,then cut it, then joyously eat it.

Is the temporal relationship the only one?

  • cf."外国人实用现代汉语语法"二、连动句中前后两个谓语动词的关系(一)后一动词表示前一动词的目的。例如:我去寄信。他去‌​南京旅行。两个谓语动词都可以带宾语。例如‌​:同学们进城看杂技了。我们找他谈重要的事‌​情。(二)前一动词及其宾语表示后一动词的‌​手段、方式。例如:他用左手写。我坐飞机去‌​。她们坐飞机去广东。我们用汉语谈话。(三‌​)后一动词表示前一动词的目的,而前一动词‌​的宾语在意义上也是后一动词的动作对象。前‌​一动词要带宾语,后一动词一般不带宾语。例‌​如:我倒水喝。他买衣服穿。我们自己做饭吃‌​。他要你的设计图看看。(四)前一动词是"‌​有",后一动词常是补充说明"有"的宾语的‌​用途的;"有"的宾语在意义上也是后一动词‌​的动作对象。前一动词要带宾语,后一动词带‌​不带宾语都可以。例如;我有笔用。他们都有‌​报纸看。我们有新项目要研究。我有几个问题‌​问老师。我每天都有时间锻炼身体。今天老师‌​没有参考发给大家。 "Temporal relationship" may only be a consequence of the required relationships outlined above.
    – user6065
    Commented Feb 16, 2017 at 6:01
  • Thus 看水果 切水果 愉快地吃水果 does not seem to be a 连动句,(serial verb construction, in fact 连词 like 而 and abverbs like 就 are needed,in which case it is not a 连动句。
    – user6065
    Commented Feb 16, 2017 at 6:01
  • 1
    Maybe in view of answer below note that "verbal construction in series" = 连动句 is the technical term used in Chinese grammar involving purpose,means or manner relationships between the V-O phrases involved (as quoted above).
    – user6065
    Commented Feb 16, 2017 at 10:28

1 Answer 1


Is the temporal relationship the only one?

Most, but not all.

"我看水果","我切水果" and "我愉快地吃水果" are three separate SVO sentences. When we consolidate them into a single sentence, the temporal relationship between each verb phrase is there because these verb phrase must follow a logical timeline.

我看(到)水果(就)切开它们(然后)愉快地吃 - Once I saw the fruit, I cut it and then happily ate it ,

I must see the fruit first, before I can cut it, and I must cut it first, before I can eat it.


我大喝一聲, 我揮拳, 我打中他小腹 - I shout, I punch, I hit his lower abdomen

我大喝一聲(便)揮拳打中他小腹 - I shouted and immediately punch and hit his lower abdomen

I shouted first, then I punch, and finally hit his abdomen

However, not all multiple verb phrase has a temporal relationship like the examples above. They can happen concurrently.



I have dinner, I watch TV., I laugh loudly


I laugh loudly while I am watching TV. and having dinner.

I have dinner, watch TV and laugh loudly at the same time.

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