This text is talking about sharks.

很多鲨鱼口中都有成排的利齿。 只要前排的牙齿有脱落,后方的牙齿便会补上,而且新牙齿更大、更耐用。

脱落: 脱掉;落下

只要前排的牙齿脱落, Why not just write '只要前排的牙齿脱落,'?

Is this supposed to be some kind of Chinese Past Perfect Tense 'have fallen out'? Has the author been reading too much English?

Edit: I hear that in Chinese people might say:

你去过上海吗? 或者 你有去过上海吗?
你吃过苹果吗? 或者 你有吃过苹果吗?

What is this use of 有? Something else omitted? '的经验‘ maybe??

  • another suggestion: 只要前排的牙齿有脱落 short for 只要前排的牙齿有脱落的[牙齿] (same meaning as one of below answers, at present #1))
    – user6065
    Oct 6 '17 at 6:19
  • "前排的牙齿脱落" means "the entire front row of teeth drops off"

  • 前排的牙齿脱落 is short for "前排的牙齿脱落(的部分)" which means "the front row of teeth has dropped off (parts)"

脱落 in the second sentence is in effect a noun for "脱落(的部分)" - "dropped off (parts)"

If you don't want "前排的牙齿" to imply it is "the entire front row of teeth " it has to be changed to "前排有牙齿" (the front row has some teeth)

Unlike in English, Chinese language doesn't use verb tenses. For example, both 'is' and 'was' is written as '是' in Chinese.

  • You explain that "的部分" is omitted in that sentence. Could the 的 be kept to make it more clear?
    – Philipp
    Oct 6 '17 at 5:21
  • 1
    Yes, you can say: "前排的牙齿有脱落(的)" - the front row of teeth has (some) dropped off .-- In this case, '有脱落(的)' modifies the noun '前排的牙齿 (the front row of teeth),
    – Tang Ho
    Oct 6 '17 at 6:59
  • 1
    earlier comment #1 confirmed!
    – user6065
    Oct 6 '17 at 7:24
  • Thanks a lot! I swear by God, Chinese will drive me crazy with all the bits it leaves out! Is it really too much trouble for them to write an extra '的部分’? Grrrr!
    – Pedroski
    Oct 6 '17 at 22:58
  • @Pedroski English use adjective as noun too. for example: " The good, the bad and the ugly" actually means " The good (one), the bad (one) and the ugly (one) " with the noun "one" omitted.
    – Tang Ho
    Oct 7 '17 at 0:02

Just as you said, "脱落" here is more like past tense, but not past perfect tense. To refer the condition of the teeth.

Just like die - dead.

To be honest, "只要前排的牙齿脱落," is also make sense to me. So what I would say both way are OK.

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