Questions tagged [grammar]

Questions about the grammatical rules governing Chinese structure and composition.

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51
votes
11answers
48k 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 ...
32
votes
9answers
3k 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?
9
votes
3answers
577 views

Why there is no 的 after 你 in 你国家的医院好吗?

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: ...
33
votes
8answers
7k 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
515 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.
16
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 ...
2
votes
5answers
346 views

What does “了” do in the sentence “呆在家里, 这样你就能接电话了”?

In the sentence "呆在家里, 这样你就能接电话了", I can't see why "了" is used in this sentence. I study Chinese these days, and I think that I can just say "这样你就能接电话", but in this ...
6
votes
3answers
791 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 ...
5
votes
6answers
2k 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 ?
11
votes
4answers
13k 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 ...
5
votes
4answers
724 views

How and when is 做 used as the verb “to be”?

Can someone please clarify how and when 做 is used to mean "to be" e.g. 不愿做奴隶人们 I am familiar with 做 meaning "to do" or "to make", and I would expect that if I was saying "I am a slave", “我是一个奴隶“ ...
8
votes
1answer
432 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, ...
4
votes
6answers
579 views

What is 了 doing in 这个表快了+time?

I am confused about the 了 in the sentence: 这个表快了五分钟。 Zhèɡe biǎo kuàile wǔ fēnzhōnɡ. This watch is running five minutes faster. Clearly there is no change of state. Is it for completion? I don't ...
15
votes
3answers
3k 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 ...
11
votes
3answers
1k views

Indefinite article vs numeral: use of “一” (yī)

Sometimes, when the English has an indefinite article ("a", "an"), the Chinese translation has a numeral ("一", yī). So, for example, "I want to buy a ticket" sounds like "I want to buy one ticket". ...
4
votes
3answers
328 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
103 views

When does an adjective require 的 to describe a noun?

In this post on the omission of the possessive 的,I came across an explanation of the adjective suffix 的 by Tang Ho. An example was: 强大勇敢 (brave + strong) = correct without 的 强大勇敢的人 (brave and strong ...
2
votes
1answer
378 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 ...
9
votes
4answers
2k views

What is the difference between 怎么 and 如何?

Is it mostly a question of register?
5
votes
4answers
201 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 ...
16
votes
4answers
7k views

Why use 的 at the end of a sentence such as 我一定會去看他的?

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。 I'...
22
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 ...
16
votes
5answers
8k 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
712 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:...
10
votes
3answers
2k 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 ...
6
votes
4answers
446 views

What does it mean to end a sentence in 没?

In the following example: 你找到你爸爸了没 Does the 没 make it a question? And if so, how is it different from “你找不找到你爸爸了”
9
votes
5answers
807 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
7
votes
3answers
951 views

What is 吗 doing in 你有什么事吗?

In a Chinese lesson, I came across these sentences: 你有什么事吗? Nǐ yǒu shénme shì mɑ? 你有什么事? Nǐ yǒu shénme shì? And both were translated as: What's the matter? I don't understand 1. Without 吗, I ...
9
votes
3answers
2k views

How to correctly use “多” to say “more than”?

I know a similar question has already been answered but I still have a lot of doubts. To my understanding if a number is ≤9, you need to put "多" after the measure word (or after the name if it doesn'...
9
votes
2answers
354 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 ...
7
votes
11answers
2k views

What is the purpose of 是 in “我应该是感冒了”?

I came across the following translated example: 我应该是感冒了,耳朵也有点儿疼,不过没发烧。 Wǒ yīnɡɡāi shì ɡǎnmào le,ěrduo yě yǒudiǎnr ténɡ,búɡuò méi fāshāo 。 I think I caught a cold, and my ears are a little painful, ...
6
votes
4answers
3k views

How to say “I prefer x over y”?

For example: I prefer eating fried rice over fried chicken. How to say that in chinese? How about this? 我较喜欢吃炒饭比炸鸡 我炒饭比炸鸡较喜欢吃
6
votes
5answers
559 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
2k 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
883 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.
5
votes
3answers
2k views

Complement of result:完 or 好

I‘m currently learning how to form the complement of result and what are the translations of some common compound verbs. My book makes this examples: • 看完=to finish watching • 写好=to finish writing • ...
4
votes
7answers
474 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 ...
3
votes
3answers
293 views

What is the grammatical reason for 的 at the end of short responses such as 好的, 是的 and 會的?

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
2answers
304 views

Mandarin: different ways of asking if someone prefers A to B

This question is similar but doesn't address this question of comparing different ways to express the notion of preferring A to B. Are all these ways valid grammar for asking if someone prefers A to ...
2
votes
2answers
289 views

Using SHI4 for noun and adjective, exceptional rules

I have noted the confusion for using "SHI4" and too struggle to grasp the difference. Common rule for learners is that Noun + Adjective is never linked with "SHI4". As in "He is tall" etc. However, ...
2
votes
2answers
158 views

Differences between “Verb + Adj”, “Adj + Verb”, “Verb + 得 + Adj” and “Adj + 地 + Verb”?

I am having some difficulties understanding the differences in meaning between the following structures (the examples are from Line dictionary): Verb + Adj e.g: 走快了她会累。 Zŏu kuài le tā huì lĕi. ...
7
votes
5answers
609 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
209 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
313 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 ...
4
votes
4answers
582 views

What is the meaning of 一看 in 打开盒子一看,里面是一只小猫?

打开盒子一看,里面是一只小猫 Is it the same as 看看 or 看一看?
4
votes
2answers
2k 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"?
3
votes
1answer
494 views

What does 也 mean in the dialogue: A: 他迟到了。B: 这也难怪。 今天地铁坏了。

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.
3
votes
3answers
822 views

Question words at the end or beginning? (e.g. “Nide baba shi shei?”)

So far, question words in Chinese have always appeared at the end. But with "shei" I saw sentences like Shei shi nide baba? So can it be used at the start or end of a sentence? Can we say ...
3
votes
2answers
664 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 ...