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In a sentence like 可以便宜很多吗 or 可以便宜一点儿吗, what part of speech are 多 and 一点儿? I know what these sentences mean, I just don't know whether 多 and 一点儿 nouns, adverbs, or adjectives in this context.

They seem adverbial, but I'm not aware of adverbs modifying adjectives. That suggests they act more like degree words or degree complements of some kind for adjectives. If they're adverbs, could someone provide example sentences with the same grammar, but not in a 可以~吗 format?

My other hypothesis is that the phrases above are comparisons with one side of the comparison understood and unspoken, in which case I guess it's the same as a comparative sentence with 比, where the adjective comes at the end, so 多 and 一点儿 would be adjectives.

The only other thing I can think of is that the adjective 便宜 is serving as a noun, and the sentence is just like any other Noun + 很 + Adjective phrase.

I'm mainly trying to figure out if there's some underlying grammatical rule that forces 多 and 一点儿 to the end so I can build a formula with parts of speech. The grammar wiki says here that 一点 just can't be used before an adjective and should instead be used after, but that wouldn't apply to 多, which seems to work the same way in the two examples above.

Thanks.

3 Answers 3

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Degree complements.

Stative verbs always carry an inherent comparative sense in their bare/infinitive form (i.e. when not modified by an adverb such as 很). Degree complements are there to indicate the extent or measure of the comparative state defined by the verb. Consider:

重一公斤 = heavier by one kg > one kg heavier

长一寸 = longer by an inch > an inch longer

小两岁 = younger by two years > two years younger

The complements used above give us a specific amount. In your examples, the words 很多 and 一点 indicate an indefinite amount. Syntactically, however, they're comparable.

Since they are placed directly after the verb, you could almost think of them as objects (or, more technically, "patients", as statives are by definition intransitive, cf. 来一个人).

Certain grammatical theories might even consider them predicates in their own right, perhaps with an empty copula and a nominalised stative verb as subject (cf. 高得多).

But, theories aside, all you need to know is that these words indicate the degree or extent of the stative verb. So you are right to consider them complements of degree, as initially suggested in your question.

From a parts-of-speech perspective (if we really must use such Indo-European categories), their "function" here is nominal, whether they're in fact nouns, nominal phrases or nominalised adjectives.

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  • Fantastic answer! Thank you. Dec 30, 2022 at 0:23
  • Pleasure's all mine. If the above has answered your question, please don't forget to accept it as your preferred answer to help with future reference. Cheerio.
    – Sanchuan
    Dec 30, 2022 at 9:23
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便宜 = cheap/ inexpensive

多 = more

一点儿 = a little bit

便宜[多][一点儿] = [a little bit (一点儿)] [more(多)] inexpensive

便宜多一点儿 = a little bit more inexpensive = a little bit cheaper

一点儿(a little bit) is an adverbial phrase for the adjective 便宜

多一点儿 (a little bit more) is also an adverbial phrase for the adjective 便宜

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便宜很多 = a lot cheaper

  • 這家(商店)的鞋子比那一家要便宜很多 - This store's shoes are a lot cheaper than the other store.

便宜一点儿 = a little cheaper

  • 這家(商店)的鞋子比那一家要便宜一点儿 - THis store's shoes are a little cheaper than the other store.

Note, 便宜 is an adjective in both cases.

When negotiating the price, I would say 可以便宜一点吗 (Can it be a little cheaper?) instead of 可以便宜很多吗 (Can it be a lot cheaper?) which does not make good sense for most of the occasions.

ADD:

多(adj) = many, numerous.

很(adv) = very, much.

很多 = very/much many, a lot (数量词 - a quantifier).

一点 = a little, a bit (数量词 - a quantifier).

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  • @r13 Thanks. I already know the meanings though; what part of speech do you think 多 and 一点儿 are in these sentences? Dec 29, 2022 at 13:46
  • As in the examples, 多 (a lot of) is the opposite of 一点儿 (a little). If you have more questions, you can edit/expand your original question so I can understand better where is the problem. Thanks.
    – r13
    Dec 29, 2022 at 14:00
  • 很多 = a lot of; 多 = more
    – Tang Ho
    Dec 29, 2022 at 14:02
  • @r13 If 很多 = "much more", then 很多人死了 would mean "much more people have died" instead of " a lot of people have died"
    – Tang Ho
    Dec 29, 2022 at 14:08
  • many more/ much more = 多許多 example: 在美國死的人比加拿大多許多 (many more people died in the US than in Canada) --多許多 can be replaced with 多很多
    – Tang Ho
    Dec 29, 2022 at 14:09

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