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This sentence is taken from lesson 2 of HSK3 and apparently it means "get an umbrella".

The full sentence is 我下楼去给你拿把伞 which should mean "I will go downstairs to get you an umbrella".

My IME is always suggesting 那把伞, which obviously means "that umbrella", which makes me think this construction might not be as common ... ?

So my question is if this "拿把伞" really is 拿(verb) 把(measureword) 伞(noun). Because I have never seen a measure word attached to a verb in this way, at least not in Chinese. Can all transitive verbs do this? Are there other verbs that behave in this way?

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把 (classifier) is not attached to the verb 拿, it is attached to the noun "伞"

拿 (verb); 伞 (noun)

拿伞 = take umbrella (can be any number of umbrella)

拿 把伞 = take an umbrella (one unspecific umbrella)

拿 那把伞 = take that umbrella (one specific umbrella)

More example:

吃 (verb); 饼 (noun)

吃饼 = eat cake (can be any amount of cake)

吃 个饼 = eat a cake (one unspecific cake)

吃 这个饼 = eat this cake (one specific cake)

  • So can nouns in any position do this? For example, 把伞在门口 (an umbrella is in the doorway) or 你条腿 (your leg) – Wilson May 9 '18 at 20:45
  • in "把伞在门口" we are referring to a specific umbrella (the one at the door) therefore you cannot use 把 alone, you have to say "那把伞在门口" (that umbrella at the door). 你条腿 is not grammatically wrong, but in practice, we always say 你那条腿 (that leg of yours) because we are referring to a specific leg (your leg) – Tang Ho May 9 '18 at 20:52
  • I meant to say "an umbrella". Unspecifically, any which one. Maybe another more fitting example: 个人在门口 or so. – Wilson May 9 '18 at 20:56
  • Same here, 个人在门口 is a specific person (the one at the door). you need a pronoun like [有]个人在门口 ([some]one at the door). terms like 把伞 (an unspecific umbrella ) cannot be followed by a relative phrase that specify which umbrella we are talking about. – Tang Ho May 9 '18 at 21:02
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帶把槍 bring a gun.
切條魚 cut a fish.
吃碗麵 eat a bowl of noodles.
裝盒餅乾 pack a box of cookies.

Here measure words (better see them as classifiers) are 把, 條, 碗, 盒 where the number of one is usually omitted. If it's more than one, the number 2, 3, 4... would not be left unsaid or unwritten. (And interestingly 把, 條, 碗 imply singular and 盒 implies a group which might be plural.)

As for your questions in the comment however, when the classifiers are put at the beginning of a sentence, the number is always present even if it's singular. People don't leave classifiers at the start of a sentence without a numeral.

一盒餅乾在桌上 a box of cookies is on the table.
兩碗飯盛好了 two bowls of rice has been filled / prepared.
三條魚跳出水面 three fishes jumped out of the water.
四把槍在門口 four guns were at the gate.

Again even all of the above examples are singular. The number of "one" would always be described because the classifier is at the beginning.

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The number one is omitted. The full sentence should be:

我下楼去给你拿把伞。

Both 拿一把伞 and 拿把伞 mean "to take (one) umbrella".

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