What is the meaning of this sentence?


Moreover, is 分组 a separable verb 离合动词, or is it a verb and a noun?

I haven't found grammar references that explain the verb in question. I'm confused because 哪 is in the middle of the supposed separable verb.

  • Where did you see the sentence?
    – dan
    Jul 23, 2020 at 12:20
  • In my chinese book easy steps to chinese 5.
    – ANTXON
    Jul 23, 2020 at 12:24
  • From a passage about dragon boat racing? Jul 23, 2020 at 12:25
  • 2
    @ANTXON Are you sure there isn't a typo? It doesn't look quite right. Or any context?
    – dan
    Jul 23, 2020 at 13:17
  • 哪个两个 sounds like Southwestern Mandarin, not MSM.
    – Mou某
    Jul 23, 2020 at 13:48

5 Answers 5



I think it is a typo.

remove the extra 个 and write 龙舟队分哪两个组?(dragon boat teams divided into which two groups?) make the most sense





It is wrong to use 个 (a) as a classifier for 两个组 (two groups)


你說的是哪兩个隊 (O)

你說的是哪兩隊 (O)

你說的是哪个隊 (O)

你說的是哪隊 (O)

你說的是哪个兩隊 (X)

你說的是哪个兩个隊 (X)(X)


龙舟队 --- (The) Dragon boat team

分 --- separated / grouped into

哪个 --- which

两个 --- two

组? --- groups?


I think this sentence is not perfectly grammatical. You can analyze it as follows:

龙舟队 The Dragon Boat Team

分 (divide into, assign to)

哪个 which (one)

两个组 two groups

It doesn't sound grammatical to me mainly because 哪个 means "哪(一)个 which one", but the subsequent noun phrase is about "两个组 two groups".

We can probably read it as "which two groups", but then the Chinese would be “哪两个组”.

As additional evidence, Googling the quoted “哪个两个组” phrase yields a good 5 results, against 84k for “哪两个组”.

Anyway, putting it all together it becomes something like:

Which two groups is the Dragon Boat Team assigned to?


Which two groups is the Dragon Boat Team divided into?

In both these cases, I think 分组 is not a separable verb. Why?

In a separable verb the separable part is the object of the sentence (that's why they are also called verb-object phrases) but this object has a non-specific meaning (some linguists call it virtual or ostensive object), and as such, in English it's often rendered as a 1-valency verb. Compare:

我吃饭 = I eat food

我跑步 = I run steps

Instead your sentence already has an object — or if you prefer, the subject of a passive form —, which is 龙舟队 ...unless you want to argue that 龙舟队 is who performs the division in groups. (The fact that 龙舟队 is the topic of a topic-comment construction doesn't affect its grammatical role.)

As a counter-test, can you rewrite 组 in a 把 + Obj. + V structure? You can't. Instead 龙舟队 can be placed after 把:

把龙舟队分哪两个组 (ok) vs 龙舟队把组分哪两个 (???) (not ok)

So what is 组 then? I think it's the object of a 3-valency result complement structure. This is relatively easier to see if we rewrite the verb+result in a copy structure, instead of topic-comment. (This is similar to what you can do with degree complements):

(主语) 龙舟队 分(成/到) 哪两个组

This is my analysis. Any feedback is welcome.


分 often comes with 为:

She asked the students to split into groups of four.

Just thinking about a question yesterday on the origin of tense words in Chinese and whether the teams divide themselves or 被分为. Certainly, a team is a team and remains undivided.

The dragon boat teams are divided into which two groups?

Dragon boat teams divide into which two groups?

But, if the team is divided after some fashion, my piercingly nautical suggestion would be:

Fat team members all sit on the starboard side, thin team members all sit on the port side.


龙舟队分哪个两个组? is simply incorrect.

The combination of 哪个 and 两个组 doesn't make any sense grammatically and logically.

哪个 means WHICH ONE, for example: A B C D, 哪个是B?(which one is B?). The second one is B.

哪两个组 is right, means WHICH TWO GROUPS?

So the correct sentence is 龙舟队分哪两个组?

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