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I came across this sentence:

我想对你说几句话。
Wǒ xiǎng duì nǐ shuō jǐ jù huà.
I'd like to say a few words to you.

My understanding is that 句 means sentence, and 话 means "words" in general (ie 我听不懂她说的话 or "I don't understand the words he is saying"). But if you want to say "a few words" why not just say 几句 instead of 几句话? I don't see the function of the 话 at the end.

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    Possibly just a typo, but beware that 她 means she and not he – Pierre Arlaud Dec 8 '19 at 14:46
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Pedroski wrote in his answer:

After enumeration, such as '几‘, any word you can't explain will be a classifier.

Agree with that. "句" in "我想对你说几句话" is not a noun but a classifier

If you say 我想对你说几句, you just omitted the object "话" but it is still implied. Similar to saying "may I have a few?" in English, which an object is implied,

For example, a man is eating candy, his friend pointing at the candy and ask: "May I have a few?" he doesn't need to state the object "candy" which is understood by both parties

With the same logic, the object in 我想对你说几句 is made understood with the present of the verb "说" (say). The object of the verb "说" (say) is always "话" (e.g. 真心话, 不中聽的话, 重要的话 etc.)

Example of "句" as a noun:

  1. with classifier: 一個句 (a sentence), 個 is a legit classifier for 句(n)

  2. with applicable verb: 造句 (make a sentence), 造 is a verb applicable to 句(n)

  3. with applicable adjective: 疑問句 (interrogative)

疑問句 (interrogative) is a single term, but 疑問 functions as an adjective and 句 functions as a noun within the term

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句:sentence / clause / phrase / classifier for phrases or lines of verse

我想对你说几话。

After enumeration, such as '几‘, any word you can't explain will be a classifier.

Tricky customers, those CLs, watch out for them!

A much more interesting questions is: Why does Chinese have CLs?

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Great question.

It brings out the verbal / social subtlety of what goes on between Chinese speakers which non-Chinese may not notice or aware of. It is more than just grammatical syntax. It carries societal formalism.

When your boss tells you 我想对你说几句话, a cold chill should run up or down your spine. 几句话 here in this context does not necessarily mean "a few words", it most likely means a long lecture on your short comings as an employee.

If a good friend says it, it could mean he wants to give you some well-meaning advice.

These 2 or 3 little words, whether it be 几句 or 几句话, (which actually are seldom used in relaxed social conversations) carry a certain amount of serious relational import due to it's formal context.

Finally, 几句 could also be used as a form of admonition, like, 你少说几句好不好, which is akin to "please cut the crap"

  • Yeah, it does sound business-like. – dan Dec 8 '19 at 4:28

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