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In the sentence

"医院到了" meaning "We arrived at the hospital",

is the word 医院 object of the sentence? Then, why has it come before the verb 到?

Wouldn't it be better to say "到医院了"?

The same is true about the following senteces:

a) 三楼到了。Here we are at the 3rd floor.

Wouldn't it be better to say "到三楼了"?

b) 现在刚到五月。May has just arrived.

Wouldn't it be better to say "现在五月到".

2 Answers 2

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Rather than the syntactical positions in Subject + Predicate Verb + Object, it's better to analyze Chinese in the topic-comment framework.

"医院到了" and "到医院了" both are valid. In both of them, 到 is the Predicate Verb and 医院 is the logical object. These two sentences have different implications. The English translation cannot catch the nuisances.

In "医院到了", we are talking about 医院 (topic), which is the foreground and naturally receives emphasis. Say a passenger are visiting someone in the hospital. It's better to tell her that "医院到了" because 医院 is her focal point. This sentence is complete; it's better not to think of an omitted subject here.

In "到医院了", we lose the focus on 医院. Here the focal point is on the action. So if I'm expecting to meet my friend at her place but I'm still on the way. My friend calls me and asks me where I am, I should answer by "到医院了". This sentence can also be analyzed as omitting the subject, which is naturally referred in the context, not necessarily we or I. The 2nd or 3rd person is also possible. In my example it's I. Note that it's wrong to say "医院到了" here. My friend is not asking about 医院 but my action of going.

"三楼到了" and "到三楼了" follow the same analysis.

"现在刚到五月。" The topic is 现在, so we are thinking about 现在. What is it with 现在? It's “刚到五月” (comment). In this comment, we have a second layer. The focal point is the action of ”刚到“, which also has 现在 as the logical subject.

"现在五月到" is not valid. To fix it we can add a "了" so "现在五月到了". The topic of the inner layer is 五月. There are contexts where this sentence is used. For example, we are discussing the past months in this year. Suppose now it is May. We can say "现在五月到了".

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"医院到了" = "hospital is reached". "hospital" is the subject.

"到医院了" = "arrived at the hospital". "hospital" is the "object", as the "subject" was omitted.

There is no meaningful difference between the two phrases, but "到" should be interpreted differently.

a) Same as the above.

b) 现在刚到五月。May has just arrived.

It is fine to say "现在五月刚到。

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