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Questions tagged [grammar]

Questions about the rules that govern and structure the language, and the composition of clauses, sentences and expressions.

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47
votes
11answers
39k views

的-地-得, when do you use which?

So the age old question of 的-地-得, when do you use which? When spoken, it all sounds the same, but on paper it depends on if it's a verb, noun, adjective. But I don't quite remember if that is all that ...
29
votes
9answers
2k views

Tense and use of 了

I struggle a bit to get my head around tenses in Mandarin, and in particular when I need to use 了 (le). Do you have any tips, examples or resources to help me out with this?
27
votes
8answers
3k views

How do I decide whether to use 可以, 会 or 能?

According to every dictionary I've seen so far, there is a big overlap in these: 可以 = can, may, be able to 会  = can, be able to, able 能  = can, may, able, capable How do I properly choose which ...
8
votes
1answer
296 views

When should I use the 是…的 construction?

I've been told that 是...的 is used to put emphasis on something, but I'm not sure when or why I should use it.
4
votes
3answers
264 views

The word order of co-existing adverbs in a sentence

I am wondering whether there is a commonly accepted rule about the word order of co-existing adverbs in a sentence. For example, in the following sentences, 果然,昨天,直接,从学校 are adverbs. Which of the ...
11
votes
4answers
10k views

How is 就 (jiù) used?

Pimsleur's Mandarin course teaches "I'm leaving very early tomorrow morning" as: 我明天早上很早就走 (wŏ míngtiān zăoshàng hĕn zăo jiù zŏu) It says that 就 (jiù) doesn't have a corresponding meaning in ...
7
votes
1answer
319 views

怎么… with 的 and 了

So it is said that if you find 的 after 怎么, the sentence represents 'How', and if you find 了 after 怎么, the sentence represents 'Why'. How : 你怎么来的? "How did you come?" Why : 你怎么来了? "Why did you come?" ...
17
votes
6answers
1k views

Learning how to use measure / count words properly

Chinese has measure (or count) words like “个” (一个人), “部” (三部车), etc. These always get me confused, and there way too many of them. Are there any general rules that can help me memorize them? Also, ...
14
votes
4answers
2k views

Does 多 always come after the measure word?

I've realized that I still don't fully understand the placement of "多“ a relatively common word. Can you never place 多 before a measure word? A friend recently corrected my "四多快美金“ into 四块多美金” but ...
6
votes
2answers
573 views

To 了 or not to 了

I'm Chinese learner and as everybody else I'm puzzled by the verbal aspect 了. My research into the subject gave such results: 了 belongs to a class of perfective aspect markers just as many other ...
14
votes
3answers
2k views

Why do Chinese translations of English names sound very inaccurate?

I have noticed that most Chinese translation of English names sounds really inaccurate and weird. For example, the common translation of person's name "Robert Wilson" is "罗伯特·威尔逊", which is not ...
6
votes
2answers
400 views

Why no 的 in this sentence?

I got a translation of “Are hospitals in your country good?” from a native speaker of Mandarin as: 你国家的医院好吗? Why there is no 的 after 你? It is after a pronoun for instance in such a sentence: ...
2
votes
1answer
242 views

Using xiànzài and zhèngzài in a single sentence

I saw sentence xiànzài wǒ zhèngzài xué hànyǔ. And I can understand it as "I'm learning Chinese now". What bothers me is would it be any different meaning if I just say xiànzài wǒ xué hànyǔ? Or even wǒ ...
5
votes
4answers
160 views

How can I tell apart which two-syllable adjective forms “ABAB” to emphasize it?

I'm now learning on emphasizing adjectives by the repetition (e.g. 你的脸红红的。). However, some two-syllable words form ABAB and others AABB to emphasize the adjective. For example, 开开心心 好吃好吃 干干净净 便宜便宜 ...
5
votes
7answers
1k views

When to use “他的太太” and when “他太太”?

I've read the two different sentences, of which one uses "他的太太" and the other uses "他太太". How can I tell the difference between the two? For example, in the following sentence: 现在他想他的太太。 现在他想他太太。 ...
21
votes
1answer
2k views

What is the difference in use between 以及, 和 and 与?

I have a book with the following lesson titles: 中文以及中国 聚会和饮食 交通与环境 Why are these terms connected with 以及 / 和 / 与, why not always use 和 for example? Are there any rules for proper use of these ...
8
votes
3answers
1k views

What's the difference between 了, 著 and 到 when used as verb complements?

I need help with sorting out the difference between 了, 著 and 到 when used as verb complements. I have learnt most of my Chinese in Taiwan and in my experience, Taiwanese people don't use 著 as a verb ...
8
votes
4answers
602 views

Which verbs DO NOT go with 了 and or 过?

I remember reading that some verbs don't accept 了 or 过. Side question: When I use a word like 昨天 or 以前 do I use 了 or is it redundant? e.g. 昨天我去买了一台电脑 or 昨天我买一台电脑
4
votes
6answers
789 views

Why use combined characters that have the same meaning?

(rèn shí ) both characters means ( to know)and when combined it still have the same meaning. So why can't I use only one of them ?
9
votes
2answers
333 views

Questions on “的话”

What is the etymology behind "的话" in the common construct 如果...的话 or 要是...的话? In addition to wondering about it's meaning, what exactly is the 的 doing? Is it modifying the 如果? Is it modifying the ...
6
votes
5answers
378 views

When should I use 经验 and when should I use 经历?

Can I say "跟据我的经历那儿的人很友好"? Is this a correct sentence? Should I use 经历, 经验, or is there a better way to say this sentence?
6
votes
4answers
849 views

What is the difference between 参加 and 参与?

I have been using these interchangeably, until today I was corrected, being told that one "参加活动”, not "参与活动“. I then looked up the definition, but it wasn't too helpful. How do I know when to use ...
6
votes
4answers
692 views

Why is (是) shi4 dropped in this sentence:“我很好”?

I''m a Chinese learner for quite a while, I've been wondering why (是) shi4 is dropped in sentences like this:"我很好" Isn't there supposed to be a verb in every sentences? like 我(是)很好.
4
votes
7answers
427 views

When is the 把 construction forbidden?

I would like to understand which (if any) of these sentences are incorrect and why. 我给了我妹妹一支笔。(being the most basic, this is the one I think I understand) 我把那支笔给我妹妹了。 我把一支笔给我妹妹了。 我在把这支笔给我的妹妹 Thanks ...
7
votes
2answers
849 views

What is the difference between 怎么 and 如何?

Is it mostly a question of register?
7
votes
5answers
525 views

这就是台湾,这才是台湾. Cracking the 就 again

Many moons of my struggle with 就 and 就是 maybe finally over. But still I need help from natives and others. There is a book out there with a title: "这就是台湾,这才是台湾" Once I saw that phrase I thought that ...
4
votes
2answers
1k views

Are there relative pronouns in Chinese

Are there words for relative pronouns, for example: The man, who was walking to the shop, was tall. Is there a Chinese word for the bolded "who"?
4
votes
3answers
251 views

Adverbs that don't use 地

So I know that to make an adverb, you use 'de/di' and put it before the verb like: 我兴奋地打开了我的礼物 But in my studies this week I saw this: ...病症的人逐年增加 and 逐渐成长为独立 Am I right in thinking that ...
3
votes
1answer
92 views

When 了 has the same verb before and after it, is it reduplication combined with 了1?

Some sentences that I have seen contain the pattern "verb + 了 + verb". An example of this is: "他們碰了碰杯子。" [1] Since in all examples that I have seen the verb before and after 了 is the same, I ...
3
votes
2answers
455 views

What is the motivation for the use of 把 or 将?

Chinese is a language without case markings on words, but it does make some steps in that direction. It sometimes marks what in some languages would be an accusative or oblique case noun with 把/将 and ...
2
votes
3answers
243 views

的 at the end of short responses

I've always been curious about this: What is the grammatical reason for 的 at the end of these short responses? Q: 這樣好嗎? A: 好的。 Q: 你是美國人嗎? A: 是的。 Q: 你會彈鋼琴嗎? A: 會的。 Can someone shed some light on it ...
2
votes
1answer
425 views

What does 也 mean in this sentence?

A: 他迟到了。 B: 这也难怪。 今天地铁坏了。 As I understand it, 也 means also or too. I'm not sure how this fits in this sentence.
2
votes
2answers
174 views

Translation of “this much and no more”

I found this sentence and its English translation on tatoeba.org: 我知道的就這麼多了。 Beyond this I know nothing. Now I'm trying to parse the sentence structure, and I'd like some confirmation or a ...
1
vote
2answers
65 views

Usage of 就 in these two examples

I'm taking an intermediate Chinese course and ran across a character whose usage I can't quite wrap my head around: 就. I believe the meaning of the character itself are "then, right away, etc." ...
0
votes
1answer
179 views

Objects with potential complements

Objects in sentences with potential complements can occur either after the complement or at the beginning of a sentence . For example: 这个大米我吃得完。 or 我吃得完这个大米。 They both work, but one sounds weird in ...
-1
votes
2answers
117 views

Need Help Editing (需要帮助的编辑)

Is anyone willing to help me edit this monologue for grammatical errors? If so, I would really appreciate it. I have also included the pinyin in case it helps to understand what I meant. I have chosen ...
13
votes
3answers
5k views

Using 的 at the end of a sentence

I'm looking for confirmation of the way I'm parsing a sentence with 的 at the end, and I'd appreciate some background or other examples of this usage. I found this sentence on tatoeba.org: 我一定會去看他的。...
12
votes
5answers
6k views

What are the rules in Chinese for adjective order when multiple adjectives describe a noun

See https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/1155/what-is-the-rule-for-adjective-order for the equivalent question in English. I didn't find any discussion online of the order for multiple Chinese ...
10
votes
3answers
672 views

When do I use 着 to indicate action in progress?

It seems like for some verbs (正)在 is used to indicate action in progress, but I have also encountered 着 for some, like 穿着. When should it be used, is there a rule to follow?
1
vote
2answers
459 views

what is difference using of “地” and “得” [duplicate]

I have been learning Mandarin since 6 months ago, but i have problem with my title, could you guys make me clear about the difference between them? if i have example of sentences like below is wrong:...
8
votes
5answers
694 views

When can 把 be used?

I know it switches the order of the verb and object and can be used to place emphasis on the object. 我把东西放在椅子上 And 把 should be used to indicate some kind of change is happening to the object. In ...
11
votes
2answers
1k views

Measure Words and their English Analogue

I was taught that the closest analogue in English of Chinese measure words are 'units', e.g. "a pile of wood", "a cup of water", etc. What strikes me as a bit odd about this analogy is that the units ...
9
votes
4answers
668 views

份, 个, 本, 两: How do they function in these sentences?

I've been working with Rosetta Stone for about 2 weeks now, and due to the immersion (from the start, the entire program is entirely Chinese—no English anywhere), they don't do any explaining of ...
5
votes
3answers
2k views

A Golden Rule for When Chinese Repeat a Word Twice X Twice? 热热闹闹

I have come across several times reading Chinese that they repeat words twice and then again. For an Instance what is the difference between 热闹 and 热热闹闹 ? what is the grammar meaning when words get ...
2
votes
1answer
121 views

What is the semantic relationship between the verbal phrases of a serial verb construction?

The general syntax of a serial verb construction sentence type is: S VP1 VP2 VP3... wherein S stands for Subject and VP for verbal phrase. As far as I know, the sequence of verbal phrases express ...
1
vote
1answer
691 views

When should I use “很” before an adjective? [duplicate]

Very early in the process of learning Chinese as a foreign language we are taught: 我是好 is incorrect because 是 is only used before nouns and 好 is not a noun. 我很好 is the correct way to say the former 很 ...
1
vote
3answers
836 views

“Learn” vs. “Study”

I've read the thread on 學 vs. 學習, and I have a slightly related question. In English, the words "learn" and "study" are somewhat interchangeable, but also fairly distinct, in that there is a ...
11
votes
3answers
2k views

Why does the construction of 要是…的话 mean “if”?

I know other words like 如果 also mean "if", but why would 要是...的话 mean "if"? An example sentence: 要是你喜欢汉语(的话),你该听中国的音乐。 If you like Chinese, you should listen to Chinese music.
8
votes
7answers
1k views

Is it correct to say “在手机”?

Would it be correct to use the phrase "在手机”/“在手机上” etc. to express that I am doing something on my phone? For example, could I say 我听音乐在我的手机上。 Or can 在 only be used for my actual physical location?...
8
votes
4answers
2k views

When to use “们”

In Chinese, using "们" after a noun is, in some sense, equivalent to adding an "s" after an English word. Yet I find the rules in Chinese of using 们 to be very puzzling; I am a native speaker yet I ...