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In the following sentence:

艾文特别老实、害羞,提什么建议,他都说好的好的;有时开他的玩笑,他会脸红得不知所措,只是憨憨地笑。他喜欢骑自行车,我俩就骑着车在南京城里转,在我这个业余导游的指引下,早到哪儿,逛到哪儿。

Since it starts with 他 as a subject, I feel that it is "he" that makes fun of something, not that he is being. But since the latter sentence makes an impression that he feels embarrassed, so I also feel that he is actually joked at here.

How can I know which is correct? Usually, the sentence should be 他开玩笑 I think, but I wonder if it is actually "he" that is making fun of, why is it in such a form...

Or is 开X的玩笑 different word from X开玩笑? If it is the same and the subject is 他, why not simply say 他开玩笑, instead of 开他的玩笑?

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  • since no new person has been mentioned,他 refers to the same person throughout the text, in particular to 他 in 开他的玩笑
    – user6065
    Apr 2, 2018 at 2:18
  • It is 开他(的)玩笑 and not 他开玩笑,the latter may be "his making fun, joking", even though an object would usually be mentioned as in iciba: 你如果跟他开玩笑, 他会认为你在嘲笑他, but 开他(的)玩笑 has 他 as object.
    – user6065
    Apr 2, 2018 at 5:10
  • @user6065 I added a little more context. 我 is an author of the article.
    – Blaszard
    Apr 2, 2018 at 9:12

2 Answers 2

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'他的' in '开他的玩笑' is not the subject, it is an 'adjectival phrase'

开玩笑 = to joke

他的 = (对)他的 = toward/ about him

'对他的' (toward/ about him) is the adjectival phrase for '玩笑' (joke). It describes what kind of joke it is - 'a joke toward/ about him'

'开玩笑' (to joke) is a single verb treated as one word, but in this structure, 玩笑 (joke) is isolated out and treated like a noun, therefore (对)他的 could be applied to it.

Similarly:

回家 (go home) is a single verb

in '回[溫暖的]家' , '家' is isolated out as a noun and '溫暖的' (warm) is the adjective for '家'(home)

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  • So does this mean he makes fun of himself?
    – Blaszard
    Apr 2, 2018 at 9:08
  • '开他的玩笑' means he was being made fun of-- The subject is omitted . It could be anyone: "如果(有人)开他的玩笑,他会脸红" = " if (someone) play joke on him, he would blush"
    – Tang Ho
    Apr 2, 2018 at 9:46
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他开玩笑 he cracked/played a joke
某人开他的玩笑 someone played a joke on him
开我的玩笑 make fun of me

他都说好的好的;
He was always saying ok ok,
有时开他的玩笑,
sometimes, when someone played a joke on him,
他会脸红得不知所措,
he would blush and not know what to do,
只是憨憨地笑。
except laugh a silly laugh.

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