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I was going to the convenience store and asked my local friend how to ask in Chinese "Do you want anything?"

Her answer was: 你有想要买什么吗

I wasn't sure what to make of the 有 before the verb 想要 meaning "to want" and as a native speaker she could not explain it though she did understand my questions about its grammatical function.

Is it a kind of auxiliary verb in this sentence? Or is it a case of the special Taiwanese 有 that can be used for some references to the past but which also has other uses? Or is it something entirely different?

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你有想要买什么吗. It sounds more like Taiwanese usage of 有 to my ear. I found they often put 有 between subject and verb. E.g. 我有去过;我有看过;where I often just say 我去过;我看过. In this case, I'll probably say 你想要买什么? or 你想要买什么(东西)吗?.

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Are you sure she didn't say "你有什么想要买吗?" which would be a correct way to say "do you want to buy anything?"

"你有什么想要买吗?" means "Is there anything you want to buy"

你(you) 有什么(is there something) 想要(want to) 买(buy) 吗?

~

"你有想要买什么吗?" means " Have you intended to buy something?"

你(you) 有想要 (have intended to) 买(buy) 什么(something) 吗?

[有+verb] indicate [perfect tense ]

Example:

想 = intend to

有想 = have intended to

有想過 = had intended to

去 = go

有去 = have gone

有去過 = had gone

看 = see

有看 = have seen

有看過 = had seen

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    I actually went back to her and asked and wrote it down to make sure I got it right to put in this question! – hippietrail Feb 2 '19 at 15:03
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Chinese is often best understood by what it leaves out.

Maybe it is:

你(有没)有想要买什么?= 你有没有什么想要买的东西?

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关于这个问题,其实很简单。它只是台湾话的一种说法。普通话里没有这个“有”字的用法。 About this question, it is really simple, it is just a Taiwanese exprssion. There is no this usage of 有in Mandarin Chinese. 普通话的“有”字句是这种形式:It is this form of 有-sentence in Mandarin 主语+(动词)有+宾语。 “有”是动词不是助动词,它后边可以带动态助词“过”“了”但不能带补语。 Subject +(verb)有+ object . 有 is not auxiliary verb. It can be followed by dynamic auxiliaries “过”“了”but no complement. 例如: 这个城市有了很大变化。/ 图书馆里有过这本书。 “有”字句的否定形式是:The negative form of 有- setence is always 没有 主语+ 没有+ 宾语 例如:今天我没有时间。 而它的正反问句的形式是:有没有 The affirmative-negativ of the 有-setence 例如:今天你有没有时间?

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