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Looking at this sentence 我哪个都要 How is subject object verb structure valid? If its topic comment structure, then why is the subject 我 first instead of object 哪个都 (everything). Seems weird

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  • 我哪个都要 = 哪个我都要. Does it make sense now?
    – r13
    Mar 16, 2023 at 23:58
  • @r13 grammatically it makes more sense to me, but when the dou is separated like that it looks like "which one I all want"
    – Thomas
    Mar 17, 2023 at 1:09
  • In sentences 我哪个都要。= 哪个我都要。“哪个” is translated into "anyone", not "which one". "哪个都" is translated into "whichever" = "all of them".
    – PdotWang
    Mar 17, 2023 at 1:18
  • 都 in both indicates "all" or "the whole"; both sentences mean "I want (them) all". Let "兩" replaces "哪", then the sentences mean "I want both (two)". You should translate the overall meaning of a sentence, not word to word, which often fails to work.
    – r13
    Mar 17, 2023 at 2:55

3 Answers 3

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I am a Chinese native speaker, and i don't know too much about grammar. But the sentence 我哪个都要 can be treated as an inverted sentences from 我要每一个(哪个). Put 哪个 in front of 都要 has the meaning of emphasizing 哪个。

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  • this is the answer I agree with. It is not that this is a common sentence order to be learned correctly for use, but a flipped sentence for emphasis playfully. I can already hear the precursor sentence to this in my head reading it, what with how common this specific sentence being flipped for emphasis is.
    – zagrycha
    Apr 17, 2023 at 3:51
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我哪个都要。= I want all of them. Yes, it is correct. This is a very common sentence structure. For example,

(1) 今天你哪儿都不要去,在家等我。= Please wait for me home and do not go out.

(2) 上这个老师的课,我啥也听不懂。= 上这个老师的课,我什么都听不懂。= I do not get anything from this class.

From a point of view of SVO structure, this type of sentence is called Object Proposition, which emphasizes the object. Usually, the object is an interrogative word or clause.

For example, a diabetes patient complains to his doctor:

** Note that (1) is of standard SVO structure, but (2) is much stronger than (1).

(1) 我不能吃这个,也不能吃那个,我不能吃任何东西,我会饿死的。

(2) 这个不能吃,那个也不能吃,我什么东西都不能吃,你饿死我好了。

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Subject Verb Object is most common in chinese, however Subject Object Verb is far from rare. This type of structure is most commonly seen for contrast/emphasis, or in topic comment sentence structures (your example is the first category, emphasizing everything/all of them, in contrast to the implied choosing one only)

These sentences will seem weird at first, since such sentence structure is grammatically incorrect in english. After awhile they will make sense just like other chinese grammar :)

For the record, 我要哪个都 is also grammatically correct, but has completely different meaning on that subtle level-- the emphasis and implication is changed totally. So it is good to learn them both, as they will not always be interchangable to convey your thoughts.

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  • How would you explain the different meaning and connotation of "我要哪个都"?
    – Sanchuan
    Mar 17, 2023 at 20:47
  • The emphasis and tone are different, which can change the mood and indirect implication if the phrase. Its hard to put a firm difference without a specific scenario. It's similar to the difference of english-- "I'll have that" vs "I will have that." the literal meaning is the same, but there are many subtle differences in context vs the neutral answer.
    – zagrycha
    Mar 18, 2023 at 4:13
  • I don't agree that 我要哪个都 is grammatical by itself. Do you mean that it can be part of a grammatical sentence?
    – lilysirius
    Mar 18, 2023 at 19:18
  • @lilysirius yes, I just meant to say that it is also a correct way to convey the meaning in that order. I agree that rewording matching context would probably be needed to prevent leaving the 都 hanging etc.
    – zagrycha
    Mar 19, 2023 at 7:45

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