The correct answer to this HSK5 listening question is:


The question indicates 男的 hasn't yet received his salary, so it took me by surprise that 发 is used here:

CC-CEDICT: 发 (fā​) to send out / to show (one's feeling) / to issue / to develop / to make a bundle of money / classifier for gunshots (rounds)

I thus would have instead expected (a) 收到工资 or 得到工资 to mean "receive [one's] salary" and (b) 发工资 to be something only an employer could do (i.e., pay their employee's salaries). YouDao gives examples such as 我们今天发工资 and 我明天发工资, so it definitely seems like 发工资 it means "to get paid".

Question: Why does 发工资 mean "get paid", such as in 男的现在没发工资?

5 Answers 5


发工资 can be used actively,



Or it can be used passively.


In N + 发工资, whether N is the logical subject or the logical object depends on N. Normally it doesn't need extra context to disambiguate. (If N is someone who runs the company or alike, or some organization, then it's the logical subject. If it's an individual person who works for salaries, then it's the logical object, or more accurately the recipient.)

This is not a special usage for 发工资, but a very common usage of verbal phrases. Like 我没写 vs 作业没写, 我还没吃呢 vs 饭还没吃呢 etc.

  • The French linguist Lucien Tesnière said verbs are like little theatrical works, the logic of the verb determining the roles of the arguments. Now you say, the logic of the arguments determines their role, not the verb? Who is right?
    – Pedroski
    Sep 19 at 3:21
  • 1
    @Pedroski I think neither is correct or wrong. They’re both part of a bigger framework.
    – lilysirius
    Sep 19 at 3:38

Yes, 发 means "emit" or "send", but only in the sense of extending something in space (by sending it out further) or in quantify (by adding more of it).

The broad meaning of 发 is always the same: to extend (literally, "send out") in distance or in quantity.

According to context, this notion can be translated with lots of different verbs, such as send out, shoot out, spring out, emit (literally, "put out"), express (literally, "push out"), etc.

But in this context the best way to think about 发 is in the sense of "grow out", as in a plant "growing" a new leaf, a person "growing" their hair out [of their head], or a farmer "growing" vegetables [out of their plot of land].

You are already used to thinking of 发 in this additive/accumulative sense thanks to the common expression 发财 ("to grow one's wealth"). 发工资 works just the same way: "to grow one's income", ie to make a living, to get paid.

  • Is 发 not used in physics?
    – releseabe
    Sep 19 at 8:40

Yes I agree with @lilysirius. In Chinese, especially in spoken language,"把" and "被" (which are Active and passive, respectively) are sometimes omitted. All of them can be parsed by subject or object, or by context. In addition, in this situation, you can also treat (发工资) as an activity. Different roles in an activity may have different behaviors(as @lilysirius said). For the sentence "A去上课"。If A is a teacher, it means A will go to teach students. If A is a student, it means A will go to classroom and attend a class.


昨天小美約我去逛街,我告訴她我還沒發工资,等發了工资再說吧. Here, I literally told 小美 that "I've no money because I haven't been paid (by my company) yet". 小美would be disappointed and reply "噢,你(公司)還沒發錢那就算了吧!".

Both 小美 and I will understand each other without the need to spell out the words in the parentheses because the expressions are 典型的(日用)口語.


我发工资了 is short for : 公司给我发工资了, so it means I got paid , or My company paid me money.

so 男的现在没发工资 looks a bit not following the correct grammar. full sentence should be:


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.