After learning some more about how Chinese generally handles -ed and -ing from English, I am still confused as to how it deals with -ed and -ing (and even -er) in common names of things. Like these are English common names of birds:

          -ed      -ing
Black-bellied whistling duck
Black -capped  warbling finch

Black-striped woodcreeper
Black-throated blue warbler
Chipping sparrow

Would you simply remove the -ed, -ing, and -er in the names, and have it be something like this in Chinese?

Black belly whistle duck
Black cap warble finch
Black stripe wood creep
Black throat blue warble
Chip sparrow

Or how does it typically work for these long-adjective noun phrases?

For the first one, google translate gives "黑腹口哨鸭 Hēi fù kǒushào yā", which is basically like I wrote "black belly whistle duck". But what about the -ed and -ing? It kind of gives more information than without, so not sure what happens to that stuff in Chinese.

  • 3
    "It kind of gives more information than without" - what information are you thinking about in this particular case? It's a duck with a black belly that whistles, which is quite clear in English even without the suffix. Chinese is a highly analytic language, it does not use inflections. While I can see that being inconvenient in some context, in your particular example I fail to see any difficulty in translation. Again, please do not try to establish one-to-one correspondence between grammatical rules, that's not how languages work.
    – EEQ
    Commented Oct 26, 2022 at 5:03
  • 2
    A bit of a tangent but, whistling ducks as a genus does not have a 1:1 translation with English. In Chinese they are called 树鸭, tree ducks. A majority of species are more likely to have their own native terms rather than translated in loans.
    – Mou某
    Commented Oct 26, 2022 at 13:18

1 Answer 1


-ed and -ing have no counterparts in Chinese, we use helper words to indicate past tense and progressive.

Using -ing, -ed, or -er to create adjectives and combining these adjectives with nouns to create compound nouns is also an English thing. Chinese just skip the indicators in names


whistle(n) = 口哨(n)

whistling(v) = 吹着口哨(v)

whistling (adj) + noun = 吹口哨的 + noun

If "whistling duck" is a simple noun phrase made up of an adjective (whistling) and noun (duck) then it would be translated as "吹口哨的鴨" in Chinese

If "whistling duck" is a "specific term" then it must have an official translation that you have to learn and remember. Most likely, we just call it "口哨鴨" or "哨鸭"

Just remember, not all elememts in English grammar have counterparts in Chinese grammar

When it comes to names, you would have to remember the Chinese names of the animals one by one just like you would in English

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