0

I face this problem a lot. I want to use a verb, e.g. 寻找 = "to search" (but it could be any other verb), and want to know if it's a transitive and/or intransitive verb in Chinese (i.e., whether or not it take an object); it could be either. For 寻找 we might say:

我在寻找你 (transitive)
我在寻找 (intransitive)

And Baidu suggests they're both okay, and thus 寻找 is both transitive and intransitive.

But it seems like this should be possible to determine through a dictionary or in some other way, and not by constructing sentences ans searching for them in Baidu.

Question: How do I determine whether a Chinese verb is transitive and/or intransitive?

In English, it'll be in dictionaries, e.g., seek. The same is not always true for Chinese, e.g., Bing, Baidu.

  • Do you have any idea that some word are only intransitive? – 000 Dec 24 '19 at 8:29
  • Sorry wrong question. Do you have any idea that some "Chinese" word are only intransitive? – 000 Dec 24 '19 at 8:32
  • grow: 成長, run(water): 流動 – Agrit Dec 24 '19 at 11:43
5

I am not a linguist so I cannot give you a definitive answer, but the concept of "transitive/intransitive" is not native to Chinese language.

I think most of the verbs you encounter can take an object.

Even adjectives used as verbs can take an object. There are 使动,意动,为动, that make them so.

-温暖人心的力量。(使动:使人心温暖)

-我就奇怪他怎么知道的。(意动:他怎么知道的感到奇怪)

-他还郁闷挂科的事呢!(为动:挂科的事郁闷。)

Whether there is a, nominal at least, object, is determined not only by the verb, but also by the whole sentence even the context.

And the absence of an object, however, doesn't imply that the verb is intransitive, either. It can be omitted.

E.g.

-你刚才在找什么

-我在找我的笔记本

-现在找到(笔记本)了吗?

-还没有找到(笔记本)。

You can see, 找 does take an object, but we do not need to mention it every time.

Another case is 隐含被动(implied passive), where nominal subject is actually the object of the verb.

-这台机器已经无法使用了。

-原作早已在大火中焚毁了。

-上次的作业还没有批改。

etc.

Finally, there are verbs that indeed take no object. You can distinguish them easily by the meanings of them: if some action semantically needs no target, it doesn't take objects.

-她狂野地奔跑在夐无人烟的草原上。

-因为错剪了导线,炸弹当场爆炸了。

If a verb can either take an object or not, it means differently in the two cases.

-雪花旋转飞舞,不肯落地。(swirl)

-他旋转瓶盖,开启了一瓶汽水。(unscrew)

  • 夐无人烟 = 杳无人烟 (?) – Becky 李蓓 Dec 24 '19 at 9:32
  • @Becky李蓓 Arharh it's the same thing 夐 and 杳 both mean 远 – Toosky Hierot Dec 24 '19 at 9:38
  • @Becky李蓓 I use 夐 just because when I wrote that sentence, I recalled 《吊古战场文》:平沙无垠,夐不见人... – Toosky Hierot Dec 24 '19 at 9:41

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.