In the sentence:


Is 考试 a verb? If it is a verb why is the object before it? If it is a noun could not 有 be missing before 地理?

  • My opinion is that this is somewhat informal Chinese that omits the verb 考 before 地理. This sentence is equivalent in meaning to 每次考地理考试我都不及格. This happens with some frequency in spoken Chinese where the verb-object later in the sentence contains the desired verb, leading to the desired verb being omitted.
    – Marko
    Sep 3 '19 at 4:01

Your question is very interesting.

考試 here is not an object. It belongs to 每次 phrase.

We can simply treat it like this pattern.

每次 + conditional phrase + consequence phrase (usually with 都 or more archaic with 皆 indicating that it is always like that).

This is a common pattern for expressing recurring consequence under certain conditions.

With this pattern, we can break it into two parts.

每次地理考試 我都不及格

More examples

每次大雨 我都繞路 (Heavy rain -> I go for indirect route)

每次地震 我都不在 (Earthquake -> I am not there)

每次閃燈 都是紅色 (Light flashes -> (it is) red in colour)

每次你去澳門 都忘記帶禮物 (You go to Macau -> (you) forget to bring some presents)

每次外婆看醫生 母親都會陪同 (Grandmother visits doctor -> Mother go with her)

每次出戰 皆勝 ((someone) has -> (someone) wins)

Sure you can add 有 in the 每次 phrase.

每次有地理考試 我都不及格

The meaning is the same but there are some subtle grammatical changes.

The interesting thing happens here. Chinese languages do not explicitly show the part of speech like English. Most Chinese speakers cannot tell what the grammatical properties of words is unless it is very simple. There would be a spectrum of answers because most Chinese grammar books imitates Western grammar books.

Actually there are two layers of grammar of words. First is the natural layer. Some words bear clear property naturally, for example, 踢 (kick) is verb, 紅 (red) is adjective, 葉 (leaf) is noun. But many more words are vague and ambiguous. In order to make sentence comprehensible, second layer let the placement of words in sentence to decide the grammatical properties of in usage. For example, 踢 in 一踢 is a noun because it follows 一 like 一杯, 一場. This overrides its natural property in usage.

每次 is like 每個. There is a noun following 每次. We can find phrase like 每次大雨 and 每次火災. We can conclude that 地理考試 in 每次地理考試 works as noun here. For 每次你去澳門, 你去澳門 is a phrase functioning as noun as well. So do 每次有地理考試. 有地理考試 functions as noun here.

地理考試 is a noun in 每次地理考試

有地理考試 is a sentence dressing itself as a noun in 每次有地理考試.

Phrase and sentence patterns is very important in Chinese languages. In general, word order dictates the meaning of words and their parts of speech.


考試 can mean both a noun and a verb, either an exam, or to take an exam.

There are several things to consider in this example. There is a larger combination of the usage between 考試 and 及格 namely the phrase 考試不及格. This phrase itself means to fail an exam. In that context, 考試 is only acting as a noun. However, the present example the exam is a specific type of exam, a geography exam, therefore the word 地理 is added to the noun 考試.

This is not uncommon, e.g. dark chocolate, 黑巧克力 etc. What type of chocolate? Dark chocolate. What type of exam? Geography exam.

  • but if it 考试 is acting as a noun. Where is the verb. would not be 每次有地理考试不及格 or 每次参加地理考试不及格。
    – ANTXON
    Aug 29 '19 at 19:42
  • I would translate it as “I fail the geography exam each time” or “Each time, I fail the geography exam.”
    – Dr. Shmuel
    Aug 29 '19 at 19:57

every geography exam I all ....not reach qualification
I flunk the geography exam every time.

There is nothing unusual about words being used for various functions. We don't know what function test has in a sentence until you see the sentence. 'I test ..., a test'.

If I asked you what is 'geography', you would probably say, "It's a noun." but in your sentence, it is used as an adjective, to describe what kind of exam.

Baidu has for: 及格:指达到规定的最低标准。= just pass

格 is probably 合格 或者 资格

及格 (just) reach 及 qualification 格

Your sentence is not lacking 有。



I fail every geography exam (the literal translation is: Every geography exam I don't qualify for a pass).


Every time there is a geography exam I fail.

So you can see that the characters 考试 is being used as a noun, and your suggestion of using 有 in front of the noun changes the meaning of the sentence a little bit.

Here's how you could use it as a verb:

  1. 每次考地理我都不及格. (Every time geography is tested I fail)
  2. 每次考试有地理我都不及格. (Every test if there is geography I fail).

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