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I came across this sentence: 你学习几年汉语了?

But I thought that the duration would go after the object like this: 你学习汉语几年了?

Also could I place the 了 directly after the verb: 你学习了汉语几年??

After reading another thread here I though maybe there is a "hidden 的" and it could be 你学习了几年的汉语??

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    search Q & A for "Questions about 时量补语" (find 2 previous Q). In fact there are more previous questions about this subject. re "hidden 的" 你学习几年汉语了?你学习了几年的汉语?are both valid, the other possible construction in the case of verb having an object involves repetition of verb: 你学习汉语学习了几年 ?(or 了 at the very end). – user6065 Jun 20 '17 at 21:34
  • re "in question", "question" generally makes no difference (thus previous Q&A regarding this topic still apply), in the present case interrogative pronoun 几 occurs, therefore: "外国人实用汉语语法":用疑问代词的疑问句: 在陈述句中要着重询问的部分用疑问代词所构成的疑问句.这种疑问句和陈述句的词序完全一样. – user6065 Jun 20 '17 at 22:57
  • Rearrange sequence of some noun and verb will change the tones. – mootmoot Jun 21 '17 at 13:27
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In Chinese grammar, duration goes after 'verb'. The placement of the object is flexible.

[1. 你] [2. 学习] [3. 几年] [4. 汉语] [5. 了]

[1. subject] [2. verb] [3. duration] [4. object] [5. final particle indicates completion]

~

[1. 你] [2. 学习] [3. 汉语] [4. 几年] [5. 了]

[1. subject] [2. verb] [3. object] [4. duration] [5. final particle indicates completion]

The difference between the two phrases is the placement of the object.

After reading another thread here I though maybe there is a "hidden 的" and it could be 你学习了几年的汉语??

The difference between "你学习几年汉语了?" and "你学习了几年的汉语?" is:

  • "你学习几年汉语了? emphasizes on the duration of the verb 学习

Take away the object and write "你学习几年了?" (how many years have you been studying?) and the sentence is still grammatically correct.

  • "你学习了几年的汉语?" emphasizes on the qualification of the object.

几年的 in 几年的汉语 qualifies the object 汉语; take away the object and write: "你学习了几年" (you have been studying for how many years of...?") would make the sentence incomplete.

As I stated before, the position of the object is flexible. You can even make it a [topic] + [comment] sentence structure and write:

"[汉语 (topic)] [你学习几年了 (comment)]

~

Also could I place the 了 directly after the verb: 你学习了汉语几年??

Yes, you can write [你学习了][汉语几年?] or [你学习了][几年汉语?]

The 了 after the verb is a particle indicates completion of the action, similar to [ed] in English

你学习 = you study

你学习了 = you studied

[verb (学习了)] follows by the [object (汉语)] is within the grammar rules.

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