This is a faulty wording (病句) exercise from the HSK6 Standard Course textbook page 51 (photo of original):


The corrected sentence (on page 7 of the answers downloadable from here) is:


While I agree the second sentence is correct, I honestly see no reason why the original sentence is considered an error (病句) and why 听到 is necessary. I'm fairly sure I've seen many comparable examples; I found some via Google like:

我在太平间工作,一天晚上突然有人叫我…… (source)
特朗普正在舞台上演讲 突然有人喊“枪” (source)

Question: Why is 他边走边想,非常投入,突然路旁的河里有人喊“救命!” considered a faulty sentence?

I'm starting to speculate that the author meant for the 病句 sentence to contain 听 (as in 他……突然听……有人喊“救命!”), and the student was meant to correct this error to 听到. That makes perfect sense to me.

  • To me this is a pragmatic issue. The two things described in the sentence are not apparently connected. Another way to fix it is 他边走边想,非常投入,突然路旁的河里有人喊“救命!”,打断了他的思路, as has been suggested below. Commented Jan 14 at 4:36
  • A sudden change of subject and topic (in the grammatical sense) is certainly considered poor writing, especially as these clauses are connected in one 句子 sentence.
    – Michaelyus
    Commented Jan 14 at 21:44
  • This may be equivalent to a "comma splice" in English.
    – Becky 李蓓
    Commented Jan 17 at 23:08

4 Answers 4


Haha, what a sneaky question. I think, humbly, you are seeing too much in the question.

The sentence says "...有人喊“救命!”

That is, "...someone shouted / called "Help!"

The idea of adding 听到, is because someone 喊, i.e, there being a "call", you have someone to "听", "listened" or "heard" the call.

So, a "caller" requires a "listener", meaning someone "called", and you "heard" the "call".

Thus, "...听到...........有人喊“救命!"

  • This reminds me of the saying "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" The idea being that in order for there to be a "sound", someone or some recording device has to be around to "hear" or "record" it, otherwise no sound is made by the falling tree? Commented Jan 14 at 3:37

If the guy was just walking, you can presume he heard someone yelling for help. That makes omitting the verb "heard" 听到 acceptable.

But that guy was submerged in his thoughts (非常投入) at the time. Therefore, leaving room for argument he did not notice someone shouting "Help!" (聽而不聞 - hear but not listen)

To make it clear that he heard the shouting, we need to use "heard" (听到) in the sentence. Otherwise, some people might presume he didn't notice it because of the "非常投入" description earlier

  • Yes, I first reactive thought was what you answered, but I noticed the 突然, "suddenly". So, it is either he suddenly "heard", 听到, or suddenly someone shouted "Help", "...有人喊“救命!" I opted for the answer I gave, which is that he "suddenly heard" because there was a "call" for help. But, your answer is perfectly valid to me as whether he was or was not deep in thought, he "hears" a call. Commented Jan 14 at 4:30

The subject of the first sentence has changed, and it should be divided into two sentences. The second sentence is correct because the action is expressed by the same person.


Notice the comma behind “投入”, this indicates the sentence is not end and the subject is still “He”. So a predicate(听到) is needed here. If here is not a comma but a “。”, then the subject becomes the guy in water who’s yelling for help, so the sentence would be two sentences with different subjects.

Same for “我在太平间工作,一天晚上突然有人叫我”.

Yet this one “特朗普正在舞台上演讲,突然有人喊“枪”” is a little different I think. I assume there’s a comma in between. If this one considered to be being told by another person, ‘Trump is speaking’ and ‘Someone is yelling ‘Gun’’ are two independent ongoing facts(with two different subjects), then this sentence seems fine to me. But if this sentence has only one subject-Trump, then it expresses as “Trump is speaking and suddenly heard someone yelling ‘Gun’.” which is the same situation as the other two sentences. Only my opinion, may it helps.

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