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In "New Practical Chinese Reader 2", it introduces two complements for Chinese verbs, in two different chapters. The first one being, complement of state, like 他跑得好。(He runs well)

The second one being, the resultative complement, like "记错". (to remember wrong)

But I've seen many examples where I can't distinguish between these two complements.

For example, what's the difference between these two sentences:

(包:to wrap a parcel)

a) 请包好。 b) 请包得好。

Also, there is a sentence in the same textbook that reads: 儿子每天的练习都做得不对,可是昨天的练习都做对了

As you can see, the first verb has a "complement of state", but the second one, has a "resultative complement"?

Are these two complements interchangeable? Or is there any difference between these two complements?

3 Answers 3

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Usually, you can't change them.

得 is a link between an adverb and a verb.

For example, if you're trying to say "he runs well", then you are using "well" to describe "run". Thus it should be 他跑得好, without the linking 得, this sentence seems to be awkward. And it's the same case with 请包好 and 请包得好, obviously, the first one is right.

In the 记错 case, what you mean is the content of your memory is wrong, not the memory act itself is wrong, then you're not describing a verb. In this case, there's no 得.

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  • Sorry, being a native Chinese doesn't mean I'm good at Chinese grammar, you may wait for other professional ideas or you can comment here for further questioning.
    – Rafael_DD
    May 15 at 6:03
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@Rafael_DD gives a very good start!

V+得: we call this 状态补语 and 程度补语

As 状态补语, it does describe a result state. Like 我跑得很累。我把杯子打得粉碎。

As 程度补语, it describes the action. Like 急得要死。跑得很快。

V+adj.: adj. can be a 状态补语 Like 饭做好了。

So, both can be 状态补语, what's the difference?

  1. Notice the state described with 得 can be both the subject and the object, but without 得, the object is described. 记错 something is remembered wrong. 包好 something is wrapped well. 做对 something is done correctly.

  2. 得 has to be "已然实现的结果", that is the state has been reached, in declarative sentences. In imperative sentences it is not.

  3. 得 also has somewhat a grammatical functional to complete a declarative sentence.


Let's see your examples one by one.

他跑得好。

好 is 程度补语 (how well he ran), thus 得 required. 得 completes the declarative sentence, no particles like 了 is needed.

记错

错 is 状态补语 of the implicit object. In theory it should work with or without 得. But there's more to this.

  1. 我记错了。

  2. #我记得错。

  3. 我记不对。

  4. 我记得不对。

Probably 记错 has no 得 while 记得不对 has is due to frequency of use. 记错 is more frequently used and thus more condensed and lexicalized. 3 is different than 4. While with 得 it is a reached state, without it, it sounds like that I'm still trying to remember, not finished yet.

请包好。

#请包得好。

This is a imperative sentence. The action has NOT happened yet. So 得 is in theory ok. What makes it not ok is habit due to 音步 or more complicated reasons. Consider,

请包得精美一点。 vs. 请包精美一点。

Both works. The former is actually slightly better. We need 一点 to complete the sentence, not necessarily meaning a little.

儿子每天的练习都做得不对,可是昨天的练习都做对了。

不对 is not describing the verb itself; it's still the object. The issue is much more complicated. Consider also

  1. #儿子每天的练习都做得对,可是昨天的练习都做不对了。

Simply switching the place of 对 and 不对 makes it unnatural. This is probably because it feels unfinished with a negative (waiting to be corrected) but 了 contrast this instinct.

So,

  1. #儿子每天的练习都做得对,可是昨天的练习都做不对。

This is still unnatural because 昨天 is past, 做不对 is not very consistent.

Then we change it to

  1. 儿子每天的练习都做得对,可是昨天的练习都没做对。

This is good.

or

  1. 儿子每天的练习都做得对,可是今天的练习都做不对。

今天 is consistent.

  1. 儿子每天的练习都做不对,可是昨天的练习都做对了。

  2. #儿子每天的练习都做不对,可是昨天的练习都做得对。

  3. #儿子每天的练习都做对了,可是昨天的练习都做不对。 Changing to 今天 also makes it natural.

  4. #儿子每天的练习都做对,xxx。

Before the comma, we need something to complete the clause, 得、了 and 不 all do the job.

More variations... I've lost track (┳Д┳)

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In "New Practical Chinese Reader 2", it introduces two complements for Chinese verbs, in two different chapters. The first one being, complement of state, like 他跑得好。(He runs well)

The second one being, the resultative complement, like "记错". (to remember wrong)

I think the first type of complement if more commonly called a "complement of degree," but either term could work.

Complements of state/degree can be used in only one structure "verb + 得 + complement." Resultative complements can be used in three structures: 1. " verb + complement"; 2. "verb + 得 + complement"; and 3. "verb + 不 + complement." There is only overlap if the complement takes the form in 2.

In the structure "verb + 得 + complement," there is no automatic way to know which structure is represented, but generally it is still clear, since most words cannot be used in both structures. Any Chinese "adjective" indicating a quality or degree can be used as a "complement of state/degree"; however, the set of words that can be used as a resultative complement is more limited. Also, the meaning of the structures is similar, but different.

For example, a negative word can be used as complement of state/degree, but not as a resultative complement. Because of this difference, if you ever see the sequence 得不, you are dealing with a complement of state/degree. An example is the sentence: 儿子每天的练习都做得不对. The phrase 不对 must be a complement of state/degree and the sentence must mean that manner of doing the exercises ended up wrong. Technically, this does not actually assert that the result itself was wrong, since you can use an incorrect procedure and still end up with a correct result. English would have the same technical ambiguity, but pragmatically, if you say, he did the exercises wrong, you are usually talking about the results and not just the procedure. The Chinese is the same.

可是昨天的练习都做对了

This sentence has structure number 1. above, and so we must be dealing with a resultative complement. Technically, this does not assert that the procedure was correct, only that the result was correct. Pragmatically, in both Chinese and English, such sentences are used to indicate both things.

For example, what's the difference between these two sentences:

(包:to wrap a parcel)

a) 请包好。 b) 请包得好。

Sentence a) uses the structure in number 1. above and so must have a resultative complement. The second uses structure number 2. and so is formally ambiguous. I don't think, however, that either usage of 得 is compatible with an imperative.

The expression 包好 is not used to mean that the wrapping should be "nice," but rather that the wrapping should be secure. When used as a resultative complement 好 indicates that the expected state of success is reached. Used with 包, 好 can be translated as "well" but means "securely."

Used alone, 包得好 is okay to use with a resultative complement to mean "can wrap so as to be secure." In theory, it could also be used with a complement of state/degree to mean "wrap so as to end up with a nice result; however, I do not think such a usage is usual in the face of the existence of the resultative complement. If you had to express this meaning of degree, you could also say 包得很好. A resultative complement can never include an adverb like 很, and so the presence of 很 disambiguates what follows as a complement of state/degree.

Are these two complements interchangeable? Or is there any difference between these two complements?

As I have described, generally a word or phrase is used only with one structure or the other, even if there are only small differences. In the few cases were both can be used, you can use 很 to disambiguate them, since without it, the resultative complement is generally the default meaning.

The difference in meaning is that the resultative complement describes the final state created by an action, whereas the complement of state/degree describes an assessment of the degree reached by the action itself. The former does not actually tell you anything about the manner or degree of the action. The latter does not actually tell what final state is reached, just the manner or degree to which the preceding action was carried out to reach the state.

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