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So I am studying this children´s story, and I can´t find a proper grammar explanation.

有一只小鸟真可怜,它在树枝上冷得发抖。

So here I assume 有 indicates the bird´s existence, however in every explanation about 有 grammar I could find they would structure the sentence so that 有 would come after the place and before the subject. (Time/place) + 有 + (subject).

I couldn´t find any grammar that explained this particular kind of compound sentence, nor any other possible explanation. Any ideas?

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So here I assume 有 indicates the bird‘s existence

Correct. 有 is frequently used as the equivalent of "there is" in English. The typical construction is

place + 有 + noun

Example: 我家里 (place) 有 (existence) 很多椅子 (subject) -> There's many chairs in my house

Then you can also omit the place to express just generic existence, as in your sentence:

有一只小鸟真可怜 (nowhere in particular) there's a little bird which is really pitiful

This construction can be productively used in story-telling, where the exact location of the subject is not very relevant. Same as in English.

If you add a time complement instead of a location, you get the classical story introduction:

很久以前有一只小鸡~ once upon a time (nowhere in particular) there was a small chicken...

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    有一只小鸟真可怜,(there's a little bird which is really pitiful), 有一只很可怜的小鸟 (there's a pitiful /poor little bird ) – Tang Ho Jun 18 at 11:43
  • You are right, I updated my translation! – blackgreen Jun 18 at 13:16
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So here I assume 有 indicates the bird´s existence, however in every explanation about 有 grammar I could find they would structure the sentence so that 有 would come after the place and before the subject. (Time/place) + 有 + (subject).

This is probably a textbook sentence pattern, and sure, we can rewrite this sentence into that pattern.

在樹枝上「有」一隻真可憐的小鳥。它冷得發抖。

Up on the tree branches, there is a poor little bird. It's shivering from the cold.

Rather than follow textbook patterns, what if we wanted to say

There is a poor little bird, who is up on the tree branches, shivering from the cold.

Then we would use the sentence you've provided.

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