I think 『那个大点儿的杯子』will be translated together as "that bigger cup", though I do not understand which thing 『旁边』 is referring to.

Is it

  • The object that is nearby that bigger cup is mine, or
  • The nearby bigger cup itself is mine,

or is the sentence ambiguous?

6 Answers 6


旁边 = on the side

旁边那个大点儿的杯子是我的 = The bigger cup on the side is mine

This implies there is a smaller cup beside it that's mentioned before


這是我兒子(pointing to a boy)

旁边那个是他同學 (pointing to another boy beside his son)


It is your second meaning: That nearby bigger cup is mine.

What 旁边 (near, nearby) is with respect to depends on the context, or if without any context, it could refer to "near the speaker" or "near the listener".

It can never the first case. For the first case, it should be: 那个更大的杯子旁边的东西是我的. In this case, "东西" (thing) is that "whatever".


旁边 means "adjacent to" or "to the side of". In this context, what is the cup to the side of? We can't deduce that from the sentence alone.

I wouldn't consider this "ambiguous" any more than when someone says "I'll have three, thanks!" We infer from context what "three" refers to; we likewise infer from context what the cup is adjacent to.

As an example of where this sentence might arise; imagine three cups on a bench, like in the following image:

enter image description here
(see this GenAI.SE answer for how this image was drawn)

We might have the dialogue:

A: 那个蓝色的杯子是你的吗?
B: 不,旁边那个大点儿的杯子是我的。

And from context we can infer that 旁边 is in reference to the blue cup: the slightly bigger cup to the side of the blue cup is mine.

  • You only need the two cups in the middle and on the right. The sentence is still valid, since 旁边 is ambiguous here: It could be "on the side" (in general, in the layout of multiple objects), or it could also be "on the side of (aforementioned object)".
    – 王博龙
    Commented Jul 25, 2023 at 23:33
  • 1
    Indeed, I just thought if there were only one cup on the side, B would simply say 旁边的杯子是我的, and not mention 大点儿的.
    – Becky 李蓓
    Commented Jul 25, 2023 at 23:39
  • In case there are 2 cups of the same size in the middle of the table and 1 bigger cup on the far side of the table, you'd better say "The bigger one on the side is mine" than just say "The bigger one is mine". Good picture though.
    – PdotWang
    Commented Aug 8, 2023 at 14:37

This sentence can't exist alone, it must exist in the dialogue to make sense. That is, before this sentence, the two sides in Conversation must have talked about something, and this thing has more than one cup next to it and with different sizes.



Question: I do not understand which thing 『旁边』 is referring to. Is the sentence ambiguous?

No, this sentence is not ambiguous.

If you only say, 那个大点儿的杯子是我的, it is OK. It means there would be at least two cups, one is bigger, the other one is smaller.

In case the bigger one is on the side of the table, left side, or right side, but not right in the front of the speakers, or not at the center of the table, you can say, 旁边那个杯子是我的。

You can combine the two sentences to make the one in your question.


It seems that there ought to be a preceding determination that pinpoints the reference object.

For example:



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