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你英语说得很好

How exactly does this phrase function grammatically? I want to say it is topic-comment but I have struggled a lot with identifying such a structure. If it is indeed TC, then how does this translate to "you speak English very well"?

My workbook would say to construct it like 你說英語説話得很好

Thank you for any help!

  • perhaps 你说英语说的很好 or 你把英语说很好 would be more grammatically correct. – 小奥利奥 Oct 2 at 19:11
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    perhaps 你英语 can be intepreted as the topic. as in "Your English, spoken very well" – 小奥利奥 Oct 2 at 19:12
  • 你英语 is short for 你的英语 – River Oct 2 at 19:26
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This is very common in Chinese/Mandarin: Re-/Pre- position the object.
1: to emphasize object while subject is omitted (understood). I call this fake subject: 北京到了。 Beijing can not "arrive". "We" arrive at Beijing. 2: subject unknown: 前面来了一辆车。Car doesn't "come", somebody drives it to come. There is alternative: 有人开了一辆车从前面来了。 which is not as neat as first one. "shorter and to the point" is always the trend of languages. 3: subject unknown but unique to Chinese (not polite to use "someone" as the implication is small potato): "得" complement 这个鱼烧得不错。vs 有人烧这个鱼烧得不错。 Chef or some housewife is not just "有人". 4: similar with "得" complement but subject known (like 1, emphasizing object): 他说汉语说得很好。 vs 他汉语说得很好。 not just neat,you even save repeating the verb. 5 subject known or unknown, the object is a long and complicated phrase: 昨天我刚从上海买回来的新书今天早上在学校弄丢了。 alternative: use "被“ but not as neat and also subject must be known. 6 the most special one is that I want to emphasize both the subject and the object at the same time and it's not "得" complement: original: 今天早上在学校他弄丢了我昨天刚从上海买回来的新书。 --> weird: 今天早上在学校他我昨天刚从上海买回来的新书弄丢了。 Ah, the wisdom of Chinese: solution "把” 今天早上在学校他把我昨天刚从上海买回来的新书弄丢了。 Perfect: It's "he" and it's "my new book", both emphasized in equal way.

As I like to believe: language is "alive". It evolves and mutates daily. Grammar must do the same to follow, but looks like it will never catch up. Why must find grammatical explanation for all the expressions used and understood?

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  • Haha, very good! Once in a train to 南昌 the conductor walked through the train shouting "Lanchangdaole, Lanchangdaole" I immediately thought, "We're arriving, not Lanchang!" I suppose it depends on your inertial frame! – Pedroski Oct 2 at 23:00
  • quote: Why must find grammatical explanation for all the expressions used and understood? -- Because it is there and people want to know – Tang Ho Oct 2 at 23:13
  • I surrender! What if you can not explain grammatically. For example, please explain grammatically the following saying used by thousands: "Ain't nobody coming today. Boss ain't not going to be happy. I ain't stay here today." My point is the grammar (book) people usually use/study is minimum years or even decades old. Can we really expect it to cover and explain all the expressions we use TODAY? If you go through all my posts, you will find I always try to explain in simple way because the most important is for people to "understand" not to "analyze". – James Liu 刘老师 Oct 3 at 1:34
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    @JamesLiu刘老师 Grammar is the study of the rules of the language. When the language evolves, so thus grammar. Though it is true you do not need to analyze explicitly the grammar if your aim is to communicate, as for example, you do not need to solve equations when playing basketball. But in my opinion, it is nice to understand things. – Puco4 Oct 3 at 10:03
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    That's a fair point. I agree. I merely suggest not to spend too much time on this. Instead, learn more new sentences, read more articles, listen to more dialogues ... and try to use them yourself because that's exactly how we learn our native tongue. – James Liu 刘老师 Oct 3 at 23:42
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Grammar structure of 你(的)英语(你)说得很好 - You speak good English:

Topic - object: 你(的)英语 - your English. It is the object of the verb 说 - speak.

Subject: (你) - you. It is omitted but in Chinese the subject is always the "doer" of the action.

Verb: 说 - speak.

Degree complement: Verb + 得 + Adj. It describes the result of the action or the extent in which the action is done.

Adv + Adj: 很好 good.

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  • Good point, but stretching little bit too far. If put your example back to its original sequence without any omittance, it will be: 你说你的英语说得很好。 Obviously, 你的 here is superfluous, implying that "your" English is different. I still think 英语 is pre-positioned object without 的. Another type of Master Yoda's way. The fundamental/original pattern is sub + verb + object + repeated verb + 得 + result. I use "result" instead of "degree" because degree is part of result but can't explain: 他唱歌唱得哭了。 – James Liu 刘老师 Oct 3 at 10:53
  • So you say 英语 is complementing another noun with an omitted 的? I don't understand this. According to you, which other noun is it referring? Yeah, I agree with your original sentence. However, the degree complement can either complement the result or the extent of the action. This depends on the context of the sentence: if it is a general statement, it would complement the extent in which you speak, if it refers to a particular past action, it would complement the result of your speaking. – Puco4 Oct 3 at 11:50
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More than one way to skin a cat, more than one way to translate a sentence:

你英语说得很好。
You English speak 得 excellent
Your English speaking is excellent.

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