This irreverent rat sits on the Buddha's head and laughs at the people.

它常常爬到人们不敢正视的佛像头上,看到有善男信女们烧香叩头, 它就得意地暗喜:“可笑的人类, 竟然向我下跪!”

Why bother to use ’有‘ here? Could it just be left out?

I see that the collocation '看到有’ is fairly frequent, but in my sentence it seems a bit odd. Is it ok?

I was told it might just be a short version of '一旦它看到有善男信女们‘

Is this ’有‘ equivalent to Spanish 'hay'? 'hay' is used where English uses 'there is, there are', but comes from the verb haber = have.

  • 看到善男信女们 would mean "caught sight of the (for definite reference) faithful (practitioners of Buddhism)", 有 is used for indefinite reference "caught sight of practitioners of Buddhism" or of course "saw that there were ..."
    – user6065
    Nov 12, 2017 at 13:13
  • regarding answer about 看见有人在读书 being more natural than 看见人在读书, some users simply think that because 人 is of indefinite reference 有 is needed before verb 在读书, if placed after verb measure words are used to indicate indefinite reference, suggestion: search dictionaries using 看见人 and 看见一个人", find examples like 看见一个人起窗户外面走过去,她看见一个人影儿在黑暗中消失了,我转过头,看见一个人的侧影,but no similar examples for 看见人(with some following verb)
    – user6065
    Nov 12, 2017 at 16:30
  • without 有 the "plural" marker 们 indicates definite reference and the meaning would be "caught sight of (saw) the believers", with 有 which in position before verb 烧香叩头 is needed in the case of indefinite reference (E: no "the") it would seem to sound somewhat fishy, except that it may explicitly mean "there were the believers, who ..." i.o.w.OP may have correctly felt that there should be no "有" since 善男信女们 (b/c of 们) indicates definite reference
    – user6065
    Nov 12, 2017 at 22:40
  • above comments assume that readers are aware of role of 有 as dummy verb needed for nouns of indefinite reference in pre-verbal (term used by CCG) position, see chinese.stackexchange.com/questions/16463/… esp. comment #3 (quotation from CCG)
    – user6065
    Nov 13, 2017 at 0:06
  • @user6065, 她看见一个人影儿在黑暗中消失了 sounds the same 她看见一个人影儿在黑暗中消失了. So, 有 seems to be a "dummy verb" as you said.
    – dan
    Nov 13, 2017 at 0:35

2 Answers 2


"看到善男信女"= "saw believers"--> seeing the object

"看到()善男信女烧香叩头"= "saw (there are) believers burning incense and kowtow" --> observing a fact

"看到(没有)善男信女烧香叩头" = "saw (there are no) believers burning incense and kowtow" --> observing a fact

  • 谁’有‘?这里的‘有’你觉得是什么词型?
    – Pedroski
    Nov 12, 2017 at 22:39
  • @Pedroski “有”可以表示所属,比如你说的“谁有”,也可以表示存在,比如“从前有座山”。“有善男信女”的“有”表示存在。 Nov 13, 2017 at 0:54
  • and so kowtow is a loanword from Chinese
    – blackgreen
    Nov 13, 2017 at 15:27

I think you could leave it out most of time for the translation.

In Chinese, it would become natural when you add 有 in those sentences, but indeed I don't know why. For example, 看见有人在读书 sounds more natural than 看见人在读书, and both could be translated to 'find someone reading a book.'

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