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鉴于他的身体还需要恢复一段时间,我们只好请别人先代替他的工作

My textbook (《会通汉语 6读写》 p.11) contains the above sentence (photo). I'm confused about the last part 代替他的工作. I would expect a person (sb.) to replace (代替) a person (sb.), and not replace their work (sth.). To this end, I would omit the 的 and write e.g.:

……代替他工作。
……代替他做工作。

I Googled 代替他的工作 and found examples of it being used with the 的 online. I also asked ChatGPT, and it felt the textbook was acceptable, but it also wrote:

...your suggested alternatives "代替他做工作" or "代替他工作" would indeed be more precise.

I'm not sure if I'm simply being too fussy.

Question: In 别人先代替他的工作, should we delete the 的?

4 Answers 4

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It is indeed not a very proper usage. The reason it sounds acceptable is that there is another verb 接替. 接 means 接手, to take over, so 接替他的工作 is perfectly acceptable, and 代替他的工作 sounds similar to it.

On BCC corpus, you can confirm that 接替他的工作 is used more frequently than 代替他的工作.

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代替 - substitute for; take the place of

  • 鉴于他的身体还需要恢复一段时间,我们只好请别人先代替他

or, alternatively you may say:

  • 鉴于他的身体还需要恢复一段时间,我们只好请别人先代替他的位置

  • 鉴于他的身体还需要恢复一段时间,我们只好请别人先代理他的工作

  • 鉴于他的身体还需要恢复一段时间,我们只好请别人先代替他做他的工作

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(a) 请别人先代替他工作.

(b) 请别人先代替他工作.

Are both correct? Yes, sentences (a) and (b) are both correct. There is no need to delete from sentence (a). The translations could be:

(a) 请别人先代替他的工作.

= To have someone else temporarily substitute him in his role.

= To have someone else temporarily substitute his role.

(b) 请别人先代替他工作.

= To have someone else temporarily work on his role.

= To have someone else work on his role as a temporary substitution.

Is the Chinese version (b) better than (a)? Not really. (b) seems more correct than (a) in a logical consideration, because a person can not substitute a job. But people use (a) as much as (b).

In practice, grammar rules can give a language a logical explanation, but not make the language "more logical". Our problem would be how do we explain the sentence (a) with acceptable logic?

In Chinese, sentences like (a) are often used with the verb 代替. For example:

(1) 请别人先代替他的工作.

(2) 他们用木头代替了铁棒对结构的支撑力。

(3) 医生用针灸代替了麻药的麻醉作用。

Some sentences seem not "logical", but people can still understand them. We can try to insert some words that we believe have been omitted. We can modify the above example as:

(1) 请别人先(来工作)代替他的工作.

(2) 他们用木头(对结构的支撑力)代替了铁棒对结构的支撑力。

(3) 医生用针灸(的麻醉作用)代替了麻药的麻醉作用。

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他的工作=his work, 他的=his, 他=He、him

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