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I came across the following sentence:

  1. 今天我起床很早。

    Jīntiān wǒ qǐchuáng hěn zǎo.

    Today I wake up very early.

I am confused about 很早 appearing after the verb. I think here 很早 (very early) indicates the time of the action, so I would expect to follow the structure Time + Subject + Verb:

  1. 今天很早我起床。

Otherwise, I could also understand 很早 as a degree complement, and follow the following the structure Subj + Verb + Object + Verb + 得 + Complement:

  1. 今天我起床起得很早。

Why sentence 1. is correct?

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I'd take 今天我起床很早 as the shorthand of 今天我起床起得很早.

To me, 今天我起床很早 isn't my favourite sentence. The succinct version doesn't necessarily mean "more idiomatic". Some grammar pedants might even frown at 今天我起床很早 because they might take issue with the omission.

Personally, I usually say: 我今天起得很早,我今天很早就起床了 or 我今天一大早就起床了.

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  • Is it common for 得 to be omitted in sentences (both orally or written) or is just in this sentence and a few others that have become idiomatic expressions? – Puco4 Jun 30 at 9:08
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    @Puco4 I personally don't encourage to omit 得,but it might be omitted in some sentences colloquially. – dan Jun 30 at 9:48
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Why sentence 1. is correct?

  • 起床 is the verb, 很早 is the adverb. In some contexts, the adverb can be placed before or after the verb.

  • Both 今天我起床很早 and 今天我很早起床 are grammatical

Examples:

我起床很早 - I wake up very early - 起床很早 describes the subject 我

我很早起床 - very early, I wake up - 很早 modifies the verb 起床

他下子很快 = he makes moves (on the checkerboard) very quickly - 下子很快 describes the subject 他

他很快下子 - very quickly, he makes moves (on the checkerboard) - 很快 modifies the verb 下子

~

今天很早我起床 -- the subject 我 is wrongly placed between the verb and adverb, the correct sentence should be 今天我很早起床 or 我今天很早我起床

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  • 我起床很早 I would say "我起得很早" ? What do you think? – 高鵬翔 Jun 30 at 0:45
  • @高鵬翔 起床 clearly mean 'to wake up/ to get up from bed' ; 我起得很早 needs the listener to interpret the implied meaning of 起(床)起得很早. You can argue, I meant "我起(家)起得很早" (I succeeded very early) – Tang Ho Jun 30 at 0:58
  • Saying '我起得很早 is actually a more common way to talk in day to day speech. We like to use implied meanings and presumed understanding in speech – Tang Ho Jun 30 at 1:08
  • Yep, I agree with you, so we'll say "我很早起床" ,too. I just wanna express "我起床很早" is grammatical but heard weird lol. – 高鵬翔 Jun 30 at 1:23
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    @高鵬翔 To me, both "我很早起床" and "我起床很早" are a bit off. I even doubt they are grammatical though it looks perfect grammatical from English stand point. Chinese grammar is quite different from English. I do prefer your first sentence "我(今天)起得很早" – dan Jun 30 at 1:51
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I think like in English and many other languages, the effect of changing the order of the normal order of the parts of speech can sometimes work well but without proper context can often end up being a little bit confusing.

  • 今天我起床很早 is the usual way of expressing the concept that you woke up very early today. It may indicate that it is only today that you woke up really early, or that you only woke up really early but everything else you did in your usual time. Without other context it is hard to determine what the emphasis should be.
  • 今天很早我起床 is putting the emphasis on the time rather than the action because the phrase 很早 is right next to 今天 and so it is more likely that this is what is being implied. So it is likely that something about today made the speaker get up very early.

However, I wouldn't read too much into this without more information, as the grammar in Chinese language has a lot of flexibility (especially when it comes to something that is less formal and in spoken rather than written form) but normally you would use the first phrase as it is more common and fluent given that there are no additional contexts to support other interpretations.

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