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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9
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 ...
8
votes
4answers
469 views

That mystical 就 again

Here is a sentence: 厨房壁炉架上的那面镜子就把哈利吓了一跳 Below are my translation variants. Bold letters should be a 'jiu' english analog here. The mirror on top of the kitchen's fireplace scared Harry the most. ...
8
votes
5answers
2k views

Why is 得 in 你还记得我吗?

I have read the sentence: 你还记得我吗? But I can’t understand the meaning of 得, here. I don’t think it belongs to the rules explained here
7
votes
2answers
273 views

Doesn't 被 mean “by”?

I've always thought of 被 as "by." I understand the following phrase means "deducted 10 points" but I don't understand the structure. 整整要被扣十分
5
votes
6answers
416 views

Can I say 没 to negate future events?

I saw this sentence in a book: 明年这个时候你还没有毕业呢 I thought the sentence was wrong at first, but it says the sentence is grammatically correct and that there's nothing wrong with it. As you know, most ...
4
votes
1answer
801 views

都 vs 也 in “连。。。都/也” structure

I would like to learn when to use 都 and when to use 也 in the 连。。。都/也 structure. My current understanding is that 都 is often used for positive sentences whereas 也 is generally used for negative ...
4
votes
4answers
463 views

Weird usage of 不

In this sentence the 不 in the last few phrases seems to mean the opposite. For example 放不下 seems to mean the same as 放下 in this context. Is the Bu just decorative or is there a special structure here? ...
4
votes
4answers
479 views

Is 个 acceptable for all nouns?

My Chinese teacher says she doesn't care. But for future reference, is 个 acceptable as a measure word for all nouns?
3
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3answers
232 views

How is【的、得、地】pronunced when talking about the difference in usages of 的·地·得?

When discussing the differences between 的·地·得 usage I've only know the following pronunciation: 的、地、得 die、di、de I can't find a lot to back this up. But, I did find one Tianya forum thread that ...
3
votes
1answer
356 views

Difference between 只,之, and 支?

I'm a native speaker but I don't know the first thing about writing Chinese, on Rosetta stone we were shown 一支笔 and 一只狗, whats the difference and where and when do you use each one?
3
votes
1answer
185 views

Please explain 要不了多久

Please help me explain how 要不了多久 is translated into "It won't be long" Literal meaning would be "Could not demand how long?" I am not sure how 多久 works in this context.
2
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3answers
736 views

Difference between 能 and verb + 得了(de liao3)

I remember once being told that there are differences in usage and meaning between 能 and verb + 得了. 他能来。 他不能来。 他来得了。 他来不了。 EDIT: Maybe my examples above weren't that good. Here are some new ones: ...
2
votes
2answers
201 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, ...
1
vote
3answers
140 views

What would the meaning of '之前知道' be? And '之前知道了'?

If someone said '我之前知道【proposition】' would this imply that they knew it before, but no longer do? How about '我之前知道了【proposition】'? What about when the time is specific such as ‘昨天我知道【proposition】’? ...
9
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2answers
1k views

Macau Cantonese, any differences from HK?

Does anyone know how Cantonese from Macau differ from HK if there are any? Any slangs or terms used in Macanese Cantonese that is rarely used or heard in HK? Maybe some sinicised portuguese words? ...
8
votes
3answers
904 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". ...
8
votes
3answers
455 views

Why can't 去 or 回来 be used with 在 or 正在 to become progressive

So first off, I feel I should specify I am a beginner at Chinese. In my Chinese class, we were asked to write down a progressive question, using the 在...(呢) format. My question was, 你们没在去吗? which I ...
7
votes
3answers
520 views

How formal is 如何 in the context of 最近如何?

I was told by friend who is a native mainland speaker that "最近如何", or anything using "如何" to inquire about the state of a person, is a very ancient/formal way of speaking. This was quite a shock to me&...
6
votes
1answer
342 views

what are common contractions in classical chinese?

I am searching for contractions in classical Chinese. for example: 而已 ---contracts-to---> 耳. Liebe Grüsse an die süsse Teresa!
6
votes
5answers
628 views

Two “question words” in one sentence

One of my teachers asked us the example question: 你有什么安排吗? I asked her why there would be two "question words", 什么 and 吗, when I believed you should only have one question word (in this case, 吗 ...
6
votes
4answers
2k 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
5
votes
2answers
190 views

我最近没打过羽毛球 “I haven't played badminton recently”: is the 过 necessary?

我最近没打过羽毛球 Just wondering if the 过 in this sentence can be omitted? Or does the sentence have a slightly different meaning if I remove it?
5
votes
1answer
354 views

When do I have to use 做/当 instead of 是?

I know 做/当 in some contexts may mean "to be", as in: 他现在做老师了。 He is a teacher now. 她愿意做我女朋友。 She accepted to be my girlfriend. 我毕业后想做经理。 After I graduate I want to be a manager. I ...
5
votes
2answers
824 views

Difference between 正在 and 在?

I am a beginner in Chinese (Mandarin), and I am following a phone app to learn. However I cannot understand what is the difference between 正在 and 在 ? For example: 你正在干什么? and 你在干什么? The app ...
5
votes
2answers
999 views

What is the difference between 本来 and 原来?

I was learning in a Mandarin class and I was kind of stumped on the use of "本来" and "原来" when filling in the blanks in a sentence. Here's my attempt to these questions (taken from 汉语口语速成: 基础篇 pp. 91-...
5
votes
3answers
1k 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 • ...
5
votes
3answers
124 views

How to spot (if possible) if a final 了 is part of an omitted 要 in a 要…了 construction or simply a past information?

There are some examples of sentence 了 that indicate future action which (seems to) have a 要 omitted: 我(要)走了,拜! - I am going to leave, bye! I know context usually helps with the issue of time and, ...
5
votes
2answers
151 views

他很慢地走: why there is 地 if the adjective is monosyllabic?

I can't use 地 after the adjective if the adjective is monosyllabic (so 他慢地走 isn't acceptable). Then why in this sentence is there 地 after a monosyllabic adjective? 他很慢地走 Is it because I can use 地 ...
5
votes
3answers
356 views

Grammar for counting in Chinese (for non-native speakers of Chinese)

I need to write a program that can insert the count of objects into a text - without knowing virtually anything about the Chinese language. While for English this needs to distinguish between singular ...
4
votes
2answers
195 views

Can I omit 之 in 之后/之前/之内?

In Mandarin, if you want to express "three years after" or "after three years", 之 should be used such that it is 两年之后. This is also true of 之前 and 之内 (e.g. 第二次世界大战之前。, 我三天之内一定做得完。). However, now I ...
4
votes
2answers
228 views

Why can't 了 be used to complement 到?

I have been taught that the sentence 我刚到了 (wǒ gāng dào le) is not correct because 了 cannot be used as a complement of 到. Is this right? If so, why?
4
votes
4answers
487 views

Is it incorrect to use 儿化 (érhuà) inside a word, e.g., 门儿口, and 小孩儿子 and 玩儿具?

Sometimes we use 儿化 (érhuà) without it changing the meaning of the word, e.g., 门 (mén; door, gate) becomes 门儿 (ménr). However, some Chinese words contain 儿化-izable words, such as 门口 (ménkǒu; doorway, ...
4
votes
2answers
106 views

Is the position of 都 in a sentence important? (example inside)

In this instance i'm trying to communicate "every" or "each" What do you usually do on weekends? 你週末通常都做什麼 Vs 你週末都通常做什麼 Is there a meaningful difference in the position in this sentence? or is ...
4
votes
5answers
338 views

Why can't 了 be used to indicate a completed action that has yet to come?

了 is a particle that indicates the perfective--the verb has no interior composition. This is different from the perfect aspect in English which focuses on the result of an action in the past that may ...
4
votes
8answers
2k views

When to use “一下儿”

I know the phrase "一下儿" can be appended to a verb to indicate the action takes short time or less effort, for example "看一下儿". However, some verbs cannot be appended by "一下儿", since the sentence won't ...
4
votes
6answers
487 views

Usage of 了 and 以后

For the sentence 'I watched a movie after I had food', are the following translations equivalent? Additionally, is the 3rd translation incorrect (is the ...了...以后... usage valid)? 我吃了饭看电影。 我吃饭以后看电影。 ...
4
votes
3answers
500 views

吃午饭了, should 了 be right after 吃?

I saw this sentence from a text book: 你吃午饭了没有? Have you had lunch yet? Does the 了 have to be right after the verb 吃 though? 你吃了午饭没有? Have you had lunch yet? I learned that 了 with verb represents ...
4
votes
1answer
240 views

Can I use a verb+的 construction to imply an item/noun?

I'm often don't which noun to use, but I can think of a verb to describe it. I know that 吃的 (to eat + 的) means food, so I was wondering if I can use it with other verbs as well, like 洗澡的 (to bathe + ...
4
votes
4answers
209 views

Does an existential sentence with “有” only carry a non-specific noun?

Sentence 1: 桌子上有一本作业 Sentence 2: 桌子上有我的作业 I think both sentences are correct. However, I just watched a grammar video which mentioned the existential sentence with "有" can only carry a non-specific ...
4
votes
1answer
254 views

What is the meaning of “一把把” on "他更是一把把她的书包给枪了过去“?

I think that I understand the overall meaning of the sentence: He forcibly stole her bag and ran away. But I'm not sure about that part (一把把), neither its meaning nor its grammatical function (I'm not ...
3
votes
1answer
156 views

Is it permissible to use 个 in any nouns as a measure word?

In the book titled "Modern Mandarin Chinese Grammar: A Practical Guide", the author writes the following: In mainland China, in informal speech, 个 can be used as the classifier for almost any noun, ...
3
votes
2answers
198 views

How come the first tone in the character of 边 in the word 东边 is not written?

I am reading my textbook and I notice that the the pinyin next to 东边 is written as dōng​bian Why is the first tone not present on the bian? The weird thing is that in my other textbook the pinyin ...
3
votes
4answers
127 views

會講國語 vs. 講國語: when to use one or the other?

When explaining to someone if you can speak Mandarin, there are people who suggest saying 我會講國語 and others who suggest 我講國語. Appparently, 會講 suggests a higher level of competence whereas 講 alone ...
3
votes
1answer
82 views

Meaning of 的 and 之 when both are used in the same sentence

I’m reading a text in which 的 and 之 are sometimes used in the same sentence, in seemingly equivalent or exchangeable function and position. But I’m sure the author had good reasons to choose the ...
3
votes
1answer
269 views

What is the difference between qi3 and qi3 lai2?

In both situations my pen is now on a table. Speaking to another person, why do we say: 1) Qing3 na2 qi3 wo3 de5 bi3. 请拿起我的笔。 Not: 2) Qing3 na2 qi3 lai2 wo3 de5 bi3. 请拿起来我的笔。 How does the ...
3
votes
3answers
168 views

Are too many 的s for multiple adjectives a problem?

This is from my talk slides (which I'm revising): 每一个PLR(r,s,n;m)是具有m个顶点的n着色的Kr□Ks的诱导子图,例如:... (I have some students here helping me debug this.) I'm concerned about the three 的s being ...
3
votes
2answers
286 views

What is important to consider while building an adverbial phrase?

As far as I know, in Chinese, the adverbial phrase is put right in front of the verb and its purpose is to describe the verb. Sentence pattern: S adverbialphrase V O What are the rules to put a ...
2
votes
1answer
118 views

Is 未長未短 grammatically correct (in classical Chinese)?

Is 未長未短 grammatically correct (in classical Chinese)? The article http://www.hainan-today.com/2012/201201/web/201201_28.htm uses “未長未短”: 但与大门前的“翻天覆地”相比,作为景区主体之一的“雨林谷”变化却“含蓄”许多,景观还是两年前的样子,没多没少,...
2
votes
2answers
257 views

What is the role of 方 in 貽笑大方?

Consulting a dictionary on the meaning of 貽 makes the meaning of the expression rather clear. I would say “give (others cause for) great laughter”, “become laughingstock”. Yet I have trouble ...
2
votes
3answers
901 views

What is the meaning of 看在 and 分上?

看在孩子的分上,夫妇二人没有离婚。 In the phrase above, what do they mean? Neither is found in a dictionary. The sentence is said to translate to "The pair would not divorce because of the children".