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a comic I'm describing in Chinese; in panel 3 a boy stands on a chair

Yesterday I was practicing with an iTalki teacher, and in describing the above comic I said:

他把椅子站在上面。

I meant "he stood on the chair". The tutor said that's not correct, and I should say

他站在椅子上面。

He wasn't able to give me a precise explanation on the spot, but I asked him if I could say words to the effect of

他把椅子拖进来,然后站在上面。

And he said that was okay. (I'm not completely sure I remember it correctly.)

Question: What is wrong with 他把椅子站在上面?

(PS. This is not the same question as Why is "他在椅子上坐" wrong? here I use 把 grammar, while this similar question does not.)

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  • Considering: 他把椅子拖进来,然后(他)站在(椅子)上面。
    – dan
    Jul 1, 2022 at 6:45
  • 说的人多了就正确了。说的人少了就错误了。
    – bronze man
    Jul 20, 2022 at 1:18

6 Answers 6

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把 is a disposive marker. It marks the object that's to be disposed of. You need a verb that can dispose of objects

Example:

把椅子燒掉 = take the chair and burn it (the verb 'burn' can dispose of the object 'chair') [O]

把椅子打碎 = take the chair and break it (the verb 'break' can dispose of the object 'chair')[O]

把椅子站 = take the chair and stand (the verb 'stand' can't dispose of the object 'chair')[X]

他把椅子站在上面 is ungrammatical

他把椅子放在上面 is grammatical because the verb 'put' can dispose of the object 'chair'

他把椅子(拉出來)站在上面 would be grammatical because the verb 'pull out' can dispose of the object 'chair'

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  • This seems like pretty fundamental information about 把, it's a pity it's not widely shared with students. Just wondering, do you have a reference for this very helpful information? Jul 7, 2022 at 8:53
  • 1
    @goPlayerJuggler [3] [國] [prep] used before a direct object and a verb to convey the sense of disposal
    – Tang Ho
    Jul 7, 2022 at 20:46
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The problem is the use of 把:

When you use 把 before a noun, the chair is standing 在上面.

So, he is not indicated to stand 在上面.

If you would like to indicate that he stands, you should put the 站 after him (he).

2

把 means to have something done or to let/make.

For example, 把手洗了 = 洗手, meaning to have your hands washed or to wash your hand.

Here 把椅子站在上面,it could only mean let/make the chair stand up there, instead of stand on the chair. The difference here is that stand is an intransitive verb, and the noun following it could only be a subject instead of an object while the verb wash is a transitive verb, and you could express it in both ways.

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x他把椅子站在上面

✔️他坐在椅子下面

✔️他站在椅子上面

✔️他把椅子放好,站在上面

.....

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What is the "problem" with using 把 in the context of the comic?

(A) 他站在椅子上面:-

他 --- He

站在 --- stood on

椅子上面 --- on the chair.

(B) 他把椅子站在上面:-

他 --- He

把 --- let / put

椅子 --- the chair

站在上面 --- (to) stand up there.

Explanation:-

Both sentences are grammatically correct following the "SVO" structure but differ radically in meaning, (though (B) is structurally awkward)

In 他站在椅子上面:-

他 --- He (Subject)

站在 --- stood on (Verb)

椅子上面 --- on the chair (Object)

In 他把椅子站在上面:-

他 --- He (Subject)

把椅子站在 --- let / put the chair (to) stand (Verb)

上面 --- up there (Object)

Therefore the semantic confusion revolves around exactly "who" or "what" is doing the "standing"; the "He" or the "Chair"?

Finally, with regards to 上面, there is a semantic shift between the two sentences. In (A), it means "on the", in (B), it means "up there"

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Let's make the lines of the story:

  • 他想敲碎這面鏡子,可是這鏡子太高了,"所以他找了ㄧ把椅子站在上面...". The last phrase can also be constructed as "所以他站在ㄧ把找來的椅子上面...".

Note that both contain the expression in your thought - "he stood on the chair". And, in both, 把 is used as a "measure word(量词)", similar to "ㄧ張", "ㄧ個".....

Now, let's see what 把 means/does in the pattern of 他把...

  • 把事情搞砸了 = He failed the thing.

  • 把我搞糊塗了 = He confused me, or He made me confusing.

  • 把椅子放在鏡子前 = He placed the chair in front of the mirror, ...

In the examples above, 把 always associates with an action (搞 and 放 respectively) that causes/triggers an effect (砸了,糊塗了,在..前) on the object (事情,我,椅子) following it. The full sentence of the last example can be:

  • 把椅子放在鏡子前,然後站在那把椅子上面. This includes both the pattern "他把" and the measure word "那(一)把", as described in the beginning.

What is wrong with 他把椅子站在上面?

Grammatically no mistake, but it does not reflect the thought you wanted to express - "He stood on the chair". Instead, it vaguely says "He placed the chair on top" (on top of what?), which can be improved by adding an object after 在 - "他把椅子站在桌子上面", or adding an action - "他把椅子放好站在上面 (He stably placed the chair and stood on it).

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  • how is the 量词 meaning of 把 related to the OP's question? why do not you also add the meaning of 把 (bà) in your comments as well? It makes no sense to just search the web/dict and list whatever you know/find out. Please answer to the point of the question.
    – ALife
    Jul 4, 2022 at 11:47

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