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  1. 长期以来,人们总认为阑尾不_____任何生理功能,是人体_____的器官。近年来,医学研究_____,阑尾是人体一个重要的免疫器官,对_____人体正常的免疫功能起着重要作用。

A. 拥有 额外 显示 保证
B. 具有 多余 证实 维持
C. 具备 附属 解释 保护
D. 享有 无效 论证 维护

This is a fill-in-the-blanks HSK6 past exam question (H61000, Q.64). In this YouTube video the Chinese teacher describes her thought process while taking this exam; she (at around 27m21s) excludes A from the above problem by saying, in regards to 拥有, this:

阑尾不“什么”任何生理功能……。啊,这是一种否定,否定加一个动词。看A.不拥有。不拥有?不可以啊。拥有是一个主动的感觉啊:我去拥有一个东西。

Now I'm not entirely clear on what the objection to 不拥有 is here. Since 阑尾 = "appendix (in the human body)", I agree it's not something you can go and obtain. But I still don't understand how she concludes that 不拥有 is incorrect. Perhaps she's saying 不拥有 is erroneous for the same reason 不有 is erroneous.

Question: How should I understand this teacher's objection to filling in the blank 阑尾不_____任何生理功能 with 拥有?

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  • You can use either if this is a stand-alone statement. However, compared to other "choices, "B" is the best.
    – r13
    Dec 30, 2023 at 0:08

9 Answers 9

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拥有 = own

具备 = having/ equipped with

功能 = function

It is more natural to say " having/ equipped with a function than "own a function". Imagine a user manual describing the item, it would never write "the item owns what functions(as if you can give it away or trade it with someone)", functions are something to be equipped with

I would say A is also acceptable if you don't take words specifically but more generally, e.g. "own --> have"

Compared to A, B is more natural and accurate

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From my intuition I would say 具备 and 具有 are "better" options than "拥有", but a simple corpus search will show that 拥有 is also acceptable.

Since "intuition" is not something that can be easily explained to foreigners, I shall say A can be more easily excluded by focusing on the second blank. 额外 is just "beyond normal or planned scope". It can be either positive or negative, depending on the following noun. 额外负担 is clearly negative, 额外好处 is clearly positive, but "额外器官" does not have any clear connotion. On the other hand, "多余" means "extra in a redundant way", it is clearly a negative word, so is clearly more appropriate here.

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Your Question: But I still don't understand how she concludes that 不拥有 is incorrect.

I listened to the YouTube program around 27M a couple of times. What the teacher explained was that "拥有是一个主动的感觉" (Possession is an active feeling).

If it were me, I would say "拥有是一个主动的动作" (To possess is an active movement).

My understanding is that 拥有 (to possess) something is the result of someone's action with a purpose, having paid a price, or having made an effort.

"具有某些功能" (to have some functions) is to have some attributes as natural gifts, which are not obtained with other means. For example,

具有消化功能 = The stomach has the function of digestion.

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If the choice comes down to 拥有 and 具有, then being an exam. question, with not much time for philosophizing and an answer has to be given, then a quick decision would fall on 具有.

Reason?, both 拥有 and 具有, in an English translation would have the basic idea of "having or possessing" certain attributes, and almost indistinguishable in practical application.

However, in Chinese, the root meaning of a word matters, especially in a compound word situation.

Thus, 拥有 has a much wider, "looser" application, and perhaps even a little bit abstract when the question calls for a narrower application to the human Appendix.

But, in 具有, the word 具 has a definite mechanistic "bent", applicable as in "tools", "equipment" And the Appendix in a human body is, basically, an organ, an "equipment", (whether it actually serves any known physiological function or not is another question)

This therefore, (to me in an exam. situation, and exercising a lazy pinch of intuition), narrows it down to 具有, though, grammatically, (especially when translated into English), one would need to split hairs all day long to argue for one or the other.

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Pretend this is not a multiple choice question. If you were given this sentence

长期以来,人们总认为阑尾不 _____ 任何生理功能.

and were asked to fill in the blank with anything to complete the sentence, I wonder how many native speakers would say 拥有 is their first choice to insert there. I, for one, would not.

There are subtleties and nuances with the word "拥有" that goes beyond the standard translation "to own or to possess". "拥有" is normally used with a positive connotation, in that the possession is seen as a good thing. For instance,

他拥有一個豪宅 He owns a fancy mansion.

But you don't hear people say

*他拥有一所破爛的房子 He owns a tattered house.

And I respectfully disagree that 拥有 is only used for something you can go and obtain. Look at the following sentences:

他拥有一雙美麗的眼睛。 He has a pair of beautiful eyes. (Beauty is definitely not something you can go and obtain, or there will be no unattractive people on earth.)

But have you heard anyone say

*他拥有一個難看的歪鼻子。 He has an ugly crooked nose.

Now back to your question:

生理功能 is neutral. Perhaps that is why some native speakers consider it acceptable, while others do not. But regardless of whether they find it acceptable, I doubt it is any native speaker's first word s/he thinks of to fill in that blank. I personally will only use 拥有 with a positive connotation. 拥有 and 生理功能 do not go together well in your sentence. This is not a question of grammaticality, but of subtle word collocation. And this is where native intuition comes in.

Congratulations, you are at a very high level of proficiency.

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  • Acceptability is subject to context. Some examples of 拥有 followed by neutral to negative object from corpus: 他们卖房产,可他们自己却只拥有极少房地产甚至根本就没有房产。据有关专家在八十年代末计算,每个农业劳动力平均只拥有3.6亩土地。Furthermore I can easily modify your "unnatural" sentences into natural ones by placing them in larger structures: 他拥有一个大豪宅,我却只拥有一所破破烂烂的小屋。 Dec 30, 2023 at 6:04
  • For the sake of my own education, can anyone come up a with set of "guidelines, rules" as to when and in what situational, semantic context, one uses one or the other? Dec 30, 2023 at 8:37
  • @WayneCheah While all others here are rationalizing 拥有 vs 具有, I would say it is simply a matter of idiomatic verb-object combination. 拥有 is paired with physical objects, objects with values (e.g. 股份), and rights (e.g. 选举权). 具有 can be paired with 功能. You can do a corpus search or consult a specialized dictionary, but it's very inefficient to learn all such pairs. For this exam question, focusing on the second blank is far more efficient. Dec 30, 2023 at 13:25
  • @user2249675 "他拥有一个大豪宅,我却只拥有一所破破烂烂的小屋。" I read a little sarcasm (literary device) in the use of the second 拥有.
    – monalisa
    Dec 30, 2023 at 17:02
  • @monalisa I feel like the issue is not with 拥有, but rather the modality implied by "破破烂烂". 1) If we replace 拥有 with other verbs: 我今早穿了一身破破烂烂的衣服, 今年他买了一套破破烂烂的房子, they carry a kind of weirdness similar to "我拥有一套破破烂烂的房子", but adding adverbs like 只 cancels the weirdness ; 2) 拥有 is used in cases of birth defect, as in this news article 黑貓天生擁有2鼻、3鼻孔, so 拥有 is not always followed by a good thing. Finally, by logic, "having extra functionality" is a positive thing, not a negative one like "破破烂烂的房子". Things are far simpler if we explain it as "具有功能" is a more idiomatic combination than "拥有功能". Dec 30, 2023 at 20:12
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Using ”拥有“ in this context is not incorrect, but I agree with the teacher that "具有" is better.

The character “拥” means "to embrace", as in "拥抱" ("to hug"). Forming other words with it indicates a sense of ownership. For example, “我拥有一座房子”。

The character "具" in ancient Chinese means "to prepare (sacrifices for religious ceremonies)", and in modern Chinese, “a tool”. Although its original meaning is largely lost, it can still be seen that "具有" does not indicate ownership by the subject. Rather it is indicated to serve a function.

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How should I understand this teacher's objection to filling in the blank

Understand that teachers, being human, (if not an AI), are expressing opinions, not concrete facts! The "subtleties and nuances" of meaning are idiomatic.

Others here have said, they would accept 拥有. So you need to get some tips from the other 3 choices.

阑尾不“什么”任何生理功能……。
(The) appendix doesn't "something" any biological function ...
啊,这是一种否定,否定加一个动词。
This, this is a kind of negation, negation plus a verb.
看A.不拥有。
Take A. not have.
不拥有?
Not have?
不可以啊。
(It) can't be that.
拥有是一个主动的感觉啊:
(This) "have" has an active feeling, like:
我去拥有一个东西。
I want to possess something.

Neither of the below can be said to be wrong. Which do you prefer and why?

I possess an appendix.
I have an appendix.

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  • 1
    It is not about the human body has an appendix or not. It is about what functions the appendix has.
    – PdotWang
    Dec 30, 2023 at 15:39
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拥有:领有、具有,得到或者保持着某种东西。 具有:拥有且存有主述事物的属性特征。

The closest English translation for 拥有 is probably "possess". I would only use 拥有 following someone, never something. For example: 我拥有一个幸福的家.

The first blank doesn't get to decide the whole answer of course. Third blank, A 显示;B 证实。证实=demonstrate,显示=show。Of course you can use "show" in English, like "the study showed". But 显示 in Chinese is more casual, and better not be used this way.

Some answers said A is acceptable, but B is better. As a native speaker, I totally disagree. Especially, never say 某个事物 拥有,only say 某个人 拥有。

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  • Actual usage of 拥有 does not support what you say, I'm afraid. 1) 一门学科成熟的标志之一就是要拥有一批相关分支学科。2) 美国1976年所拥有的工程师是160多万人。3) 微信拥有庞大的用户群。4) 石墨烯是被认为是拥有巨大潜力的新型FET材料。 Dec 31, 2023 at 21:08
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拥有 usually refers to owning something different from/external to the subject, which is hard to justify in the case of referring to properties of the subject itself.

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