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为了减少损坏程度,每本小人书都用牛皮纸加了层封皮,封皮上用毛笔写上书名,整齐漂亮的毛笔字能充分地显示出书摊主人的文化水平。

This is from the Standard Course Book of HSK5, chapter 20. I need your help in understanding this: 每本小人书都用牛皮纸加了层封皮,封皮上用毛笔写上书名,...

Actually I don't understand why a 上 is not written in the first clause and why two ones are needed in the second clause. I mean, I would write the sentence as follows:

上每本小人书都用牛皮纸加了层封皮,封皮上用毛笔写书名

上(in)每(every)本小人书(comic)都(all or emphatic character)用(with)牛皮纸(kraft paper)加了(was put)层(classifier)封皮(cover),封皮(cover)上(in)用(with)毛笔(brush)写(was written)书名(book title).

cover with kraft paper was put in every comic, (and) book title was written with brush in cover.

So why a 上 is omitted in the first clause and two ones are needed in the second?

If you don't like 上每本小人书都用牛皮纸加了层封皮, I would write 每本小人书都上用牛皮纸加了层封皮。

2 Answers 2

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每本小人书都用牛皮纸加了层封皮。

There are several possible ways to analyze this sentence. My opinion is that it is a passive sentence with both subject and 被 omitted.

First notice that 小人书 is not the entity performing the action of 加. The subject of 加 is implicit, namely the owner of the book. If we restore the subject and the normal word order, it would be 书的主人给每本小人书都用牛皮纸加了层封皮.

Now if we turn it into passive, it should be 每本小人书都书的主人用牛皮纸加了层封皮. Remove the subject, and we get 每本小人书都用牛皮纸加了层封皮. Finally, omit 被 and we get the original sentence. 被 can be omitted when it is clear from context that the entity placed at the front cannot be the agent performing the action. For example, "每个人都邀请了" can mean "everyone is invited," even though the correct form should be 每个人都邀请了.

You suggested that there is an omitted 上. I do not find this explanation plausible. (Also both of your corrections are ungrammatical.) If this were the case, then the normal form of the sentence should be 书的主人每本小人书都用牛皮纸加了层封皮.

The problem with this analysis is that, even though we can usually move a preposition phrase expressing location to the front and omit 在, we usually cannot omit the direction word at the end (上). Compare: 我房间放了一台电视 -> 房间放了一台电视 -> 房间放了一台电视 (incorrect). 我写了几句话 -> 纸写了几句话 -> 纸写了几句话 (incorrect).

封皮上用毛笔写上书名。

Again the agent performing the writing action is omitted. If we put it back to the normal form, it should be 书的主人封皮用毛笔写上(了)书名.

As mentioned above, we can move the preposition phrase 在封皮上 to the front, and omit 在. Hence 封皮上书的主人用毛笔写上(了)书名. Omit the subject and we get 封皮上用毛笔写上(了)书名. As noted above, we cannot omit 上 at the end of 封皮上. We also do not say 我给封面写了几句话 or 封面被写了几句话.

The second 上 is part of the verb 写上. This is called a 动趋 structure. It's very common and you probably have encountered a lot: 抓, 取, 加, 减, etc.

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上(in)

Where did you get it? "上" can be "top", "go up" or "up" but "in".

noun + 上 (用在名词后边,表示时间、处所、范围:晚~。桌~。组织~。)

  • 封皮 = on top of the book cover.

verb + 上 (用在动词后边,表示开始、继续、趋向、完成:爬~来。锁~。选~代表。)

  • = write up.

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