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I am starting to understand how to say basic noun phrases and such in Chinese, and have seen this article on Chinese word order, showing word order with verb being something like:

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But how do you organize the words for extremely complex statements (in English) like these?

  • My big brother's potentially precious book on the table below the TV by the bed.
  • That book at the store by the place in the mall with the two guards.

You can start adding participles/gerunds (in English), but I don't know if that counts as adding verbs to these structures. But something like this comes to mind:

  • That thing at the place where we stood outside all night under the stars.
  • That thing standing in the middle of the road with everyone honking their horns while they were stopped in traffic.

Does that count as a non-verbed noun phrase? I am not really sure what this is structured like in English totally, but how would you do these sentences in Chinese (with Pinyin and ideally a literal English gloss)? I am curious to know mainly how the English prepositions are handled in these verbless phrases. Wondering if there is a preferred or particular word order, or if there are multiple ways of doing it.

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  • I keep thinking of ways to translate it that simplify the complexity while conveying the same meaning. I presume you want the answer to have the same complexity if possible so I am waiting to see if someone can do so (most likely yes).
    – zagrycha
    Oct 30, 2022 at 18:08

1 Answer 1

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Universal guide: just list them out in general-to-specific order (reverse order of English):

My big brother's potentially precious book on the table below the TV by the bed.

床边电视下桌子上的我哥哥的珍贵书籍

床chuáng边biān电diàn视shì下xià桌zhuō子zi上shàng的de我wǒ哥gē哥ge的de珍zhēn贵guì书shū籍jí

That book at the store by the place in the mall with the two guards.

在那个有两个保安的商场的书籍

在zài那nà个gè有yǒu两liǎng个gè保bǎo安ān的de商shāng场chǎng的de书shū

That thing at the place where we stood outside all night under the stars.

那个我们在户外星星下站了一整晚的地方的东西

那nà个gè我wǒ们men在zài户hù外wài星xīng星xīng下xià站zhàn了le一yī整zhěng晚wǎn的de地dì方fāng的de东dōng西xī

That thing standing in the middle of the road with everyone honking their horns while they were stopped in traffic.

I can't translate it to a single phrase. Maybe:

立在路中间的, 当交通被停下来时大家都在那按喇叭的东西.

lì在zài路lù中zhōng间jiān的de,当dāng交jiāo通tōng被bèi停tíng下xià来lái时shí大dà家jiā都dōu在zài那nà按àn喇lǎ叭bā的de东dōng西xī.

Maybe you wanna see how to add more modifier clause, and here I add more to one of your examples:

那个即将退休的 警察 在他最倒霉的 那天 在警察局 的审讯室里 不停地 当着所有人的面 一边喝咖啡一边 着马上就要崩溃的 紧张地 审问了 几个小时

那nà个gè即jí将jiāng退tuì休xiū的de**警jǐng察chá**在zài他tā最zuì倒dǎo霉méi的de**那nà天tiān****在zài警jǐng察chá局jú**的de审shěn讯xùn室shì里lǐ**不bù停tíng地dì**当dāng着zhe所suǒ有yǒu人rén的de面miàn一yī边biān喝hē咖kā啡fēi一yī边biān**对duì**着zhe马mǎ上shàng就jiù要yào崩bēng溃kuì的de**他tā**紧jǐn张zhāng地dì**审shěn问wèn了le几jǐ个gè小xiǎo时shí**

I shifted 不停地 and 在警察局 to make it more smooth.

Though these Chinese phrases are valid in grammar, that doesn't mean they sound natural.

I used this tool to quickly add pinyin:

https://www.jcinfo.net/zh-hans/tools/pinyin

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  • Could you add pinyin and/or an English literal gloss as well?
    – Lance
    Oct 30, 2022 at 21:41
  • The actual translation should be "我哥哥的珍贵书籍在床边电视下的桌子上. "
    – r13
    Oct 31, 2022 at 0:25
  • @r13 Actually no. The original English is NOT a complete sentence. It is a giant noun phrase around the noun "book". Your Chinese sentence translates to: My big brother's precious book IS on the table below the TV by the bed. Not the same at all.
    – monalisa
    Oct 31, 2022 at 0:48
  • @monalisa "on" is 在..之上. English requires "is" to be grammatically correct, not the case with Chinese. No matter what, a translation needs to be as close to the original as possible, it starts with "My big brother's..."= "我哥哥的..." .
    – r13
    Oct 31, 2022 at 1:17
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    @r3, These phrases are made for grammar demonstration, they should be translated as literally as possible, moreover, the grammar quality should not be changed, otherwise, how do you compare the grammar?
    – sfy
    Oct 31, 2022 at 8:55

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