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My textbook told me that a sentence like this is incorrect.

请你翻译这句话成英文。

The correct version of this sentence would be the following. (I created this sentence myself and hope to not have made a mistake).

请你把这句话翻译成英文。

And generally you shouldn't use words like 放,摆,翻译 and some other ones without 把.

BUT! I stumbled across this sentence, said by a native speaker.

不同句子的 "and" 可以翻译成不同的词。

This is a sentence which introduces variety of translations of English word "and" into Chinese. Anyway, they used 翻译 without 把.

  • Why is this correct?
  • Is what my textbook said true?
  • Which are other examples of situations/ structures where you can use 翻译 without 把? Is there a rule?
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In short, the structure that is omitted in the sentence is not 把. Instead, it is a 被 that is omitted.

If you are familiar with the usage of 把, maybe you also learned 被。 The structures are exchangeable sometimes.

Your example is:

不同句子的 "and" 可以翻译成不同的词

If you complete the sentence with an action provider:

不同句子的 "and" 可以 被读者 翻译成不同的词

You can see this sentence is a 被字句 instead of 把字句。

Omitting "被读者" is OK.

If we change this sentence into 把字句:

读者可以不同句子的 "and" 翻译成不同的词。

This is not a direct extension, but a conversion of the original sentence because the position of 可以 changed. As you mentioned, 把 cannot be omitted in this sentence.

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  • "You can see this sentence is a 被字句 instead of 把字句。" Didn't you make a mistake in this sentence? Is it what you really wanted to write? "被字句" doesn't appear in your complemented sentence. – musialmi May 1 at 13:30
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    @musialmi 被字句 is the terminology of a sentence that have a [o][被][s][v] structure. 把字句 is the terminology of a sentence that have a [s][把][o][v] structure. So we can say sentence “垃圾被我倒掉了” is a 被字句, and “我把垃圾倒掉了” is a 把字句. – River May 1 at 14:58
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[请你][翻译][这句话][成英文] - [Subject] + [verb] + [object] + [relative phrase] is a typical English [SVO] sentence. (please translate this sentence into English) It is not really incorrect in English grammar sense, but it is unusual in Chinese grammar.

The typical Chinese grammar is as you wrote: [请你] [把这句话] [翻译] [成英文].(Please take this sentence and translate it into English)

'把' is a 'deposit marker' that deposits the object 这句话. Thus enable the object to be placed before the verb to be emphasized.

"(把)这句话翻译成英文" = "(take) this sentence and translate it into English"

As for [不同句子的] [可以翻译成不同的词], it is a [topic] + [comment/ opinion] sentence

  • [不同句子] ( of different sentences) is the topic. With 的 serves as the pronoun for the object ''

  • [可以(被)翻译成不同的词] (can (be) translated into different 词) is the comment with "被" omitted

"不同句子的可以(被)翻译成不同的词" = "A phrase in different sentences, can be translated into different phrases"

A more detailed example:

Topic: [不同句子中的英文词] (An English phrase in different sentence (context)

Comment/ opinion: [可以被翻译成不同的中文词] (Can be translated into different Chinese phrase)

"不同句子中的英文词可以被翻译成不同的中文词" = "An English phrases in different sentences, can be translated into different Chinese phrases"

Example sentences:

I [miss] him = 我[想念]他

I will [miss] the train = 我会[错过]火车

~

Which are other examples of situations/ structures where you can use 翻译 without 把? Is there a rule?

You can use 翻译 in a SVO sentence without 把

Both sentences below are correct:

  • 把这句话翻译成為英文並不容易 (take this sentence and translate it into English is not easy) -- use 'deposit marker' 把 to place the object '这句话' before the verb to be emphasized.

  • 翻译这句话成為英文並不容易 (translate this sentence into English is not easy) -- using straight SVO structure without emphasizing the object

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请你翻译这句话。 is a grammatical sentence. However, some details are not explicitly written out. It directly translates to “Please translate this sentence.”

The person might be translating a sentence from a foreign language into Chinese, or he might be translating a Chinese sentence into a foreign language. That is the uncertainty. However, since the medium of communication is in Chinese, you can deduce that part of the translation process has something to do with the Chinese language.

In your example of “翻译成不同的词”, it neither specifies the original language of the words, nor the language they were translated into. Yet it is still grammatical, since it simply expresses the action of “translating words from one language to another”.

Your textbook is correct. In order to specify the original language, you can add 从 (from), and to specify the translated language, you can add 把(take ____ to do ____).

Please translate this from Chinese to English.

请把这句话从中文翻译成英文。

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