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I thought magic cards would be a fun source of study material for me, but I've hit a bit that confuses me. (From this card)

每当任一牌手施放瞬间或法术咒语时,你抓一张牌。

I already know from the English translation that it's trying to say "Whenever a player casts an instant or sorcery spell, you draw a card." Most of it I can breakdown with the use of a dictionary.

  • 每当...时 -> Whenever ...
  • 手施放 -> I think this is "casts" since it is literally "hand discharges"
  • 瞬间或法术咒语 -> "instant or sorcery" (two card types in magic)
  • 你抓一张牌 -> You draw a card. Pretty straightforward.

I do not quite get 任一牌. From what I know needs to be said to match the English rules this part presumably means "any player" or more likely "any card". I'm pretty sure 牌 is card, but if this means "any one card" why doesn't it use the measure word 张 as it does when saying "draw a card"?

I'm also surprised I don't see any mention to "a player" to avoid any weird rules lawyering, but maybe it's not actually important.

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The confusion you had is on 任一牌,however, is is actually 任一牌手,where means the person that is doing something with 。This is a common use in Chinese and specifically for your case, 牌手 means player, namely the person who is playing the cards.

Therefore the verb following it would be 施放 instead of 手施放,which would eventually mean discharge.

There are other examples like

水手 means sailor

刽子手 means executioner

围棋圣手 means the person who is really good at GO

赛车手 means racer

骑手 means bike rider

  • Ah, that solves the missing measure word and the missing mention of "player" all at once! Am I correct in assuming 任一 just means "any" and is not strictly speaking counting? Hence no measure word? – Josh Gagnon Jan 8 at 19:13
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    @JoshGagnon Yes, you are right about 任一 and no measure word is needed in this case. There are also some alternatives like 任意玩家、任意一位玩家,in principle, it might be correct to say 任一一位玩家,but it sounds weird and no one is saying that way. – zyy Jan 8 at 20:47

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