I've been doing my research on 者 and in one of the articles I read I came across a sentence from "Analects":


Glosses for this example are as follows:

where see size six-or-seventy or five-or-sixty and NEG country COP ZHE

I don't really understand why is 也 glossed as copula, is anyone able to explain why would it be treated as such instead of being a final particle? Is it because 者 is there too, probably also as a sentence final particle?

  • 1
    I believe A Student's Dictionary of Classical and Medieval Chinese just marks it as a "grammatical particle." This site: eastasiastudent.net/china/classical/nominal-sentences doesn't outright call it a copula but alludes to the fact that it has this usage.
    – Mou某
    May 8, 2018 at 10:58
  • may i ask, which book do you have, to learn about particles of classical chinese? May 8, 2018 at 18:11

3 Answers 3


Because it is a coupla.

Confucius rhetorically asks: "Among territories (方) which are 60 to 70, or (如) 50 to 60 li, where can you see (安見) one (者) that isn't a state (非邦也)?"

方六七十如五六十而非邦也 specifies a territory (方) which is about 60 to 70, or 50 to 60 li that hypothetically may not be a state (非邦也; not be is the function of the coupla). The idea is that such territories do not exist, because you cannot pick out any one (者) among the set of territories of these measurements which isn't a state.


As a native speaker (And I have received adequate education In classical Chinese), I would parse the sentence as belowFor my own convenience I write it down So you can treat what is bracketed as an independent clause and 安见……者 to make a rhetorical question... I hope some true expert will make it clear because the Analects is quite difficult for us, too. XD PS. We can have a look at the context: 亦各言其志也已矣(Which shows 孔子 is not quite satisfied with their answers.)He points out that 安见方六七十如五六十而非邦也者 which implies that 冉有's answer is basically the same as 子路, except for that he is modest. So the sentence should be explained as "Though 子路 said about 方六七十,如五六十 without mentioning 邦, it's no difference that he also wants to administer a 邦国(“大曰邦,小曰国”《周礼》).


也者 should be treated as a compound particle (虛詞), like "而已", or "而已矣"; one interpret them together. chopping it into two single character particle (虛字), is, confusing.

even in classical chinese texts, there're numerous usages, no-one would chop them into "也" + "者":




besides meaningless, indicating the end of verse, or, as modal particle (語氣詞); "也者" could be interpreted as "the mentioned" ("所謂", "所說的").


i would interpret it as "安見" + "方六七十" + "如五六十" + "而非" + "邦也者"

that, the assumption is "邦也者﹒方六七十﹒如五六十"

a state (邦), such mentioned (也者) [state] is a region (方) of 60+ (六七十) square miles (里, equal to 360 paces in ancient time), or 50+ (五六十) square miles.

so, the verse in the question would be:

how can we find calmly (安見) a region (方) of 60+ sq miles (六七十), or 50+ sq miles (如五六十); and (而) it is not (非) a state (邦), such mentioned [region] (也者)?

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