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My year-7 history textbook (image: large; alternative host)

My 语感 is telling me the part in bold is not correct. Let's simplify the people, as it doesn't affect the grammar:


It like it's trying to force "他受奶奶的影响" to be the subject of the sentence. I would instead expect something like:


Question: Is 孝文帝受她的影响很大 grammatical, and if so, what is the underlying grammar structure?

Edit: Thinking about this a big more, it appears to be a 杂糅 grammar issue. Overlapping 他受奶奶的影响 with 奶奶的影响很大.

  • wh.cnki.net/article/detail/KXWH201205007• §创新,真的很受欢迎吗§ <- more people is using 很受 now as 深受 is more common Jul 24, 2022 at 0:44
  • 1
    A literal translation might be "the influence that 孝文帝 received from 冯太后 was large". Here, "孝文帝受她的影响" is a noun phrase parsed as "(孝文帝受她)的影响", even though a standalone sentence "孝文帝受她的影响" would be parsed as "孝文帝受(她的影响)".
    – L. F.
    Jul 24, 2022 at 3:03

5 Answers 5


I feel that the other answers didn't really get to the core of Becky's question, which is that "孝文帝受她的影响" is being used as a noun phrase. I think the confusion here is that


can be parsed in two ways.

  • As a full sentence, it is parsed as

    孝文帝subjectverb (她的影响)object

    meaning "孝文帝 was influenced by her (lit. 孝文帝 received her influence)" (Note 1). This sentence is usually followed by something else, such as


    Influenced by her, 孝文帝 continued to promote reforms after her death.

    An alternative phrasing of 孝文帝受她的影响 is


    in which 受 has a slightly different meaning — it is used with an indirect object and a direct object*, similar to 给 in 给她帮助:

    孝文帝subjectverbindirect object 影响object

    However, it seems that 受 can only be used with certain bisyllabic words (e.g., 受她影响, 受别人帮助, 受噩梦困扰, but not ✕ 受她帮, ✕ 受他踢了一脚, etc.).

  • As a noun phrase, 孝文帝受她的影响 is parsed analogously to the alternative phrasing discussed above:

    [孝文帝subjectverbindirect object 的] 影响

    孝文帝受她 is an incomplete adjectival fragment with a missing piece of information (the direct object) that is formally filled in by the modified noun (影响). Consider the following analogy:

    她给孝文帝很大的帮助 to 她给孝文帝的帮助很大

    孝文帝受她很大的影响 to 孝文帝受她的影响很大

    In both cases on the right, everything before 很大 is a noun phrase in which a noun (帮助/影响) is modified by an adjectival clause (她给孝文帝的/孝文帝受她的), whereas 很大 is a predicate.

* A previous revision of this answer claimed that 受 is a passive marker, but I discarded that analysis after discussion with @Sanchuan.

  • That is simply incorrect. An empty passive marker can't stand as a relative clause on its own. The only way to validate your analysis is to consider 受 a full verb and one capable of carrying both an indirect object and a direct object. Like 奖 in 奖你一块元, which can be turned into (奖你的)一块元, just like 给 can be turned to (给他的)帮助 in your example. Only then can you parse the Topic in question as (受他的)影响.
    – Sanchuan
    Jul 24, 2022 at 10:59
  • But Topics in Chinese needn't be noun phrases. 受(他的)影响 could work just as well. In that case, it would be even more incorrect to say that (给他的)帮助 is syntactically equivalent to 受(他的)影响 because despite the superficial similarities the character 的 carries a relative clause in the former but just a possessive in the latter.
    – Sanchuan
    Jul 24, 2022 at 11:03
  • @Sanchuan Re first comment: I was indeed unsure about analyzing 受 as a passive marker — I agree that treating it as a double-object verb makes more sense, seeing as 孝文帝被她的影响 doesn’t make sense. I will edit the answer later.
    – L. F.
    Jul 24, 2022 at 11:11
  • Your other examples show that 受 is often used with two nouns, so I would tend to favour the former interpretation and consider 受 one of those verbs capable of carrying two objects (one indirect and one direct). This may be how its use as a passive marker evolved in the first place, just like 给.
    – Sanchuan
    Jul 24, 2022 at 11:12
  • @Sanchuan Re second: my 语感 seems to suggest that 很大 is supposed to modify 影响 instead of the whole phrase, since I would say 孝文帝受到了她很大的影响 not 孝文帝很大地受到了她的影响 — the latter sounds 翻译腔 to me …
    – L. F.
    Jul 24, 2022 at 11:13

Question: Is 孝文帝受她的影响很大 grammatical, and if so, what is the underlying grammar structure?

It is grammatical to place an adjective after a noun

You can replace 很大 with a similar adjective like 深远 or 严重

深远的影响 = 影响深远

严重的影响 = 影响严重

很大的影响 = 影响很大

影响 is treated as a noun in all the examples above


This sentence follows the normal grammar structure - S + V + O.

孝文帝(subject)**受(verb)**她的(object)影响 很大 - 孝文帝 had received very heavy/large influence from her.

The interesting thing is the writing style of this paragraph - uses the third person (冯太后) to lead the main character (孝文帝) to the stage. Here is a similar example:

奶奶一生热心公益, 深受奶奶的影响, (所以他)也致力於社會工作. Here, 他 is the main character rather than 奶奶. Also note that "他深受奶奶的影响" can be replaced by "他受奶奶的影响很大", but can't be replaced by "奶奶对他的影响很大" unless changes the roles of 奶奶 and 他.

奶奶一生热心公益, 小明的影响很大, 所以小明成長後也致力於社會工作. Here, in stead of 小明(他), 奶奶 is the focus of this sentence.


In my opinion, this is a Chinese version of medio-passive. In translation it will generally become a passive sentence.

One meaning of 受:蒙受、遭受: suffer, sustain, a non-volitional form of get or receive

This means, although you might regard 孝文帝 as the "subject", he is in no way active, quite the reverse. As you may be aware, at home, Chinese women often "wear the trousers", so to speak and 冯太后 was a woman.

Possibly, as 皇帝, 孝文 could have been recalcitrant and rebellious and had his grandmother beheaded, but her hold over him was probably inescapable.

Emperor Xiao Wen was greatly influenced by her.

I can't really put that in a passive sentence in Chinese, maybe someone here can do a better job:

He was influenced by her behaviour.

She was greatly influenced by her past.

In the past we were profoundly influenced by Germany.


孝文帝受她的影响 is the topic
很大 is the comment

Nothing of note here.

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