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I came across the following sentence in EP340 of the 故事FM podcast:

把一个垃圾桶的盖子给返过来,把小孩放在上面换了尿布。

My question is about the role 给 in the first part, before the comma. Without the 给 it would make perfect sense as a simple 把 + Obj + V + Result construction, just as seen in the part after the comma. With 被 I am familiar with the 被 + Actor + 给 + V passive construction, as in 我就被警察给带走了。

But what's going on here with 把 ... 给 V?

I checked in the online Chinese Grammar Wiki, and in Yip Po-Ching's Grammar, but no joy. Any explanations and pointers are welcome :)

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There are two kinds of usage of 给。Let's use the three sentences A, B and C as example:

风把门给吹开了。(A)
门被风给吹开了。(B)
门给风吹开了。(C)

In the sentence C, 给 means "passive", 门给风吹开了 = 门被风吹开了。

For the two sentences A and B, 给 is used to highlight some emotion a little. If you remove the 给 in the two sentences, they are still correct but they will become the same thing with the sentence A.

For example, your mom told you to close the door, you did but the door was opened because of the wind. When your mom asked you: why didn't you close the door, you can say: 风把门给吹开了。With this sentence, you are telling your mom that it's not your fault.

Another example. Your friend is passing you some paper outside while the wind is blowing, he may say: 小心点,别让风把纸给吹跑了。It means that your friend is trying to warn you: be careful when you hold the paper, because the wind may blow it away.

As mentioned, 给 can highlight some emotion but just a little bit. So normally it's still fine if you remove it: 小心点,别让风把纸吹跑了。--- Totally correct.

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把[things]給[action perform on things] is used in your example which means some action is done to things(i.e. [action perform on things] is done to [things]).

把一个垃圾桶的盖子给返过来(把[things]給[action perform on things], [thing] is 一个垃圾桶的盖子, action perform on thing is 返过来). So 返过来 is an action perform on 一个垃圾桶的盖子.

給 can be omitted here becomes 把[things][action perform on things] which is still understandable and acceptable. For example, you can say 把一个垃圾桶的盖子返过来. In this example 給 is dropped.

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  • Thanks! I have the same remark as with Pedroski's answer. I do get get that 把 and 给 hang together here. It's also clear that the construction works with 把 only. I mentioned all this in my question. Part of the explanation I'm looking for it is like this: Does the extra 给 alter the meaning, tone or register in any way? When is it legit to include it, and when is it ungrammatical? Is it semantic (meaning of the main verb); does it depend on the resultatice complement, or something else? – g.u. Apr 20 at 16:47
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Seems like 把 and 给 hang together.

You can leave out the 给 in these sentences.

把我给吓了一跳!
You made me jump!

我把蛋糕给吃了。
I ate the cake.

把一个垃圾桶的盖子给翻过来,
(He / She) turned the lid of the rubbish bin over,

把小孩给放在上面换了尿布。
put the baby on top and changed the nappy.

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  • Thanks! I do get get that 把 and 给 hang together here. It's also clear that the construction works with 把 only. I mentioned all this in my question. Part of the explanation I'm looking for it is like this: Does the extra 给 alter the meaning, tone or register in any way? When is it legit to include it, and when is it ungrammatical? Is it semantic (meaning of the main verb); does it depend on the resultatice complement, or something else? – g.u. Apr 20 at 16:44
  • Grammar is wholly undefined, an art, not a science. Grammar is what sounds correct to a native speaker. That changes with time. Grammar never asks the question: Why? grammar just says: This is how we say it. 给 is a slippery customer, with many meanings. One meaning: 给: 被,表示遭受:房子给火烧掉了。 If you ask me, 给 in your particular sentence is 被, indicating involuntary action. The speaker likes to indicate the involuntary nature of the event. Another speaker may not choose to do that: 把小孩放在上面换了尿布。Art, not science. – Pedroski Apr 20 at 22:18
  • er, wow... that escalated quickly :) – g.u. Apr 21 at 8:47

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