Adverbs and with time words and numbers

The adverbs jiù and cái serve many functions in sentences, and this section will introduce two particular usages. jiù and cái should be placed before verbs in sentences. The use of  jiù or cái expresses the notion that the timing of an event is earlier or later than expected. Let us look at how these adverbs are used in the following sentences.

 

                 了。

Xiăodīng jīntiān bā diăn shuìjiàole

Xiao Ding went to bed at eight o’clock.  

 

The above sentence relates the fact that the action of going to sleep happened at eight o’clock, but by using the adverb jiù, the sentence becomes:

 

                   了。

Xiăodīng jīntiān bā diăn jiù shuìjiàole

Xiao Ding went to bed (as early as) eight o’clock.  

 

As you can see,  the adverb jiù is placed before the verb shuì to sleep in the above sentence. jiù is used to comment on the preceding time expression 八点 bā diăn eight o’clock, and indicates that it was earlier than the speaker expected. In other words, the speaker is expecting Xiao Ding to go to sleep after eight o’clock.

 

                   觉。

Xiăodīng jīntiān bā diăn cái shuìjiào

Xiao Ding only went to bed at eight o’clock. (Lit Xiao Ding went to bed as late as eight o’clock.)

 

The adverb cái implies “only then”. In other words, the speaker is expecting Xiao Ding to go to sleep before eight o’clock. Notice that in addition to the adverb jiù being replaced by cái, the end of sentence particle le has also disappeared in the above sentence.

 

jiù or cái can also be used to express a view on a number that is smaller or bigger than expected. Let us see the effect that the adverbs jiù and cái have on the following sentences.

 

                   一顿          菜。

tā yòng liăng ge xiăoshí zhuò le yídùn zhōngguó cài.

He took two hours to cook a Chinese meal. (Lit He used two hours….)

 

The adverbs jiù and cái are not used in the above sentence. The sentence only states the fact that it has taken him two hours to cook a Chinese meal. However, if  jiù is added to the above sentence, it becomes:

 

                     一顿          菜。

tā yòng liăng ge xiăoshí jiù zhuò le yídùn zhōngguó cài.

It only took him two hours to cook a Chinese meal. (Lit It took him as little as two hours to cook a Chinese meal.)

 

jiù is used to comment on the preceding period of time 两个小时 liăng ge xiăoshí  two hours. The speaker thinks that two hours is a short length of time. However, if cái is used instead, as demonstrated below, the sentence has a different implication, although the meaning is similar.

 

                      一顿            菜。

tā yòng liăng ge xiăoshí cái zhuò le yídùn zhōngguó cài.

He only finished cooking a Chinese meal after two hours. (Lit It took him as long as two hours to cook a Chinese meal.)

 

By using the adverbcái in the above sentence, the speaker shows that he thinks that the preceding two hour period of time is of short length. The sentence implies that it took him as long as two hours to cook the meal.

 

When using the adverbs jiù and cái, one must remember the following points.

  1. jiù and cái must be placed before verbs
  2. jiù or cái can be used to comment on preceding time words and number words which are earlier and smaller or later and larger than expected.
  3. The end of sentence particle le is not used when cái is used.

    

Assignments

Frequently asked questions

Click on the following links to view the answers

  1. Where should I place in a sentence?

  2. How do I use to imply an action takes place earlier than I have expected?

  3. Can be used to imply anything else apart from “earlier than expected”?

  4. What are the implications if is used in sentences?

  5. Can be used for other purposes?

  6. Can and be used in a same sentence?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Complement of degree

The complement degree construction is commonly used in the following situations.

  1. To describe habitual actions. In other words, it is used to describe how someone normally does something.
  2. To describe the result of a particular action.
  3. To describe the extent of a stative verb.

de is always preceded by a verb. It is important to remember that when you use a verb which is in the verb-object form, you must make sure that the verb (but not the object) is placed before de. Because of this, a verb is often repeated in the first part of a complement of degree construction. For instance,

 

s

v-o / topic

v

adv

         

   快。

yóu yŏng

yóu

de

hěn kuài

I swim very quickly.

 

As you may know, 游泳yóuyŏng is a verb in the V-O form, in other words, yŏng is a noun, so it should not be placed before de. In spoken Chinese, people often omit the object of a V-O phrase when using the complement of degree construction. If the V-O (topic) is clear to listeners, the topic can be omitted.  For example:

 

s

v-o / topic

v

adv

 

   快。

 

yóu

de

hěn kuài

I swim very quickly.

 

bú, the negation for the complement of degree is placed before adverbs. For example,

s

v-o / topic

v

adv

         

   快。

yóu yŏng

yóu

de

kuài

I don't swimming quickly.

 

Sometimes the verb in the topic is omitted to avoid repetition, and the object of the sentence can be placed before the verb. For instance,

 

s

v-o / topic

v

adv

                错。
zhōngguó cài zuò de zhēn búcuò

She cooks Chinese meal really well.

 

The above examples describe habitual actions. When the complement of degree is used to describe the outcome of a particular completed action, a time word is needed, as a verb that is placed before de cannot take the aspect particle le. For example,

 

tw s v-o / topic v adv
                        错。
zuótiān wănshang zhōngguó cài zuò de zhēn búcuò

She cooked a Chinese meal really well last night.

 

However, the aspect le does not affect verbs that are used to describe the outcome of actions. In other words, verbs that are placed after de can still take aspect le. For example,

 

s

sv

degree

                 天。
Xiǎo Wáng nánguò  de  le   liǎngtiān

Xiao Wang was so sad that she cried for two days.

 

As you may have noticed, aspect le is used for the verb to cry in the clause that describes the stative verb 难过 nánguò to be sad. The above example illustrates the fact that the de construction can also be used to describe the extent of the stative verb. For instance,

 

s

sv

degree

           

 

                  

Zhōng wén

nán

de

wŏmén dōu bù xiăng xué le

Chinese is so difficult that we don’t want to learn it any more!

 

In the above sentence, the phrase 我们都不想学了 wŏmén dōu bù xiăng xué le we don’t want to learn it any more describes the extent of the difficulty.

 

s

sv

degree

我们   

 

   

wŏmen

máng

de

měitiān dōu bù shuìjiào

We are so busy that we don’t even sleep a single day.

 

The phrase we don’t even sleep a single day describes the extent of the matter.

 

 

Assignments

 

Frequently asked questions

Click on the following links to view the answers

  1. When do I use the construction?

  2. How many different ways can I form the construction?

  3. What is the negative form for the construction?

  4. Is the particle for completed actions used in the construction?

  5. I find it difficult to distinguish the construction from potential verb complements. How can I tell which is which?

  6. Do I always need to indicate the degree of complement?

  7. Where can I place 一点儿 and 一些 in the construction?

  8. What is the difference between "请你说得慢一点儿." and "请你慢一点儿说."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The use of the adverbial

The adverbial particle de is used to describe the way or manner in which an action is carried out. The descriptions can be adverbs or phrases with an adverbial function. Adverbs used to describe actions should be placed before de as demonstrated below.

 

s

adv           

v

o

          

             

      汉字。

rènzhēn   de

zài zhĭ shàng      xiě le

sānge     hànzi

He very carefully wrote three Chinese characters on a piece of paper.

 

s

adv            

v

o

一笔一笔   

             

      汉字。

bĭ yì bĭ       de

zài zhĭ shàng      xiě le

sānge      hànzi

Stroke by stroke, he wrote three Chinese characters on a piece of paper.

 

As you may have noticed, the aspect le is used in the above sentences.  The adverb phrase一笔一笔地 yìbĭyìbĭ de stroke by stroke is placed before the co-verb phrase 在纸上 zài zhĭ shàng to be on paper.

 

The negation for the adverbial sentences is bù, which is placed before the adverbial phrases. For example,

s

不  adv         

v

o

不 认        

             

汉字。

bù rènzhēn  de

zài zhĭ shàng      xiě

hànzi

He is carelessly writing Chinese characters on a piece of paper.

 

The negation 没 méi is used for denying that an action has taken place in the suggested manner. For example, if someone says "he wrote Chinese characters very carefully", you can deny it by saying

s

没  adv         

v

o

没 认        

             

汉字。

méi rènzhēn de

zài zhĭ shàng      xiě

hànzi

He didn't write the Chinese characters carefully on the paper.

The above Chinese sentence implies that he did write the Chinese characters, but he didn't do it in a careful manner.

 

A monosyllabic adverb is reduplicated when using the adverbial de and the duplicated adverb is often pronounced in the first tone. For instance,

 

s

adv               

v

o

              

             写

      汉字。

ta mànmān  de

zài zhĭ shàng     xiě le

sānge    hànzi

He slowly wrote three Chinese characters on a piece of paper.

 

The object 汉字 hànzi Chinese character in the above examples is attached to a number word and a measure word. When an object has nothing else attached to it, the adverbial de can be omitted. For instance,

 

                作。

tā zŏngshì rēnzhēn gōngzuò

He always works conscientiously.

 

                    努力  学习         文。

Xiăo Wáng zŏngshì  nŭ  lì  xuéxí  Zhōngwén

Xiao Wang always studies Chinese diligently.

 

The above sentences describe habitual actions. You might ask if the complement of degree construction can be used to describe the above situation. Of course you can, but it would be something like this.

 

            学习              学习       

Xiăo Wáng xuéxí Zhōngwén xuéxí de hěn hăo 

Xiao Wang studies Chinese well.

 

You have to remember that the adverbial construction describes the manner in which an action is carried out, and the complement of degree construction focuses on the outcome of an action. As you can see from the above examples, 努力diligent is used to describe the manner and hăo well/excellently is a description on the outcome of Xiao Wang’s studying.

 

Assignments

Frequently asked questions

Click on the following links to view the answers

  1. When should I use the construction?

  2. How can I form a   sentence?

  3. What should I be aware of when I use the construction?

  4. Do I always have to use , if I want to describe how an action is carried out?

  5. Is the particle for completed action used in constructions?

  6. Can verb complements be used in the constructions?

  7. How do I use in the and sentences?

  8. Are the construction and the constructions interchangeable? For instance A.今天上午他很快地吃完了饭 // B.今天上午他饭吃得很快 Do these two sentences have the same meaning?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Resultative Verb Complements

A resultative verb complement is formed by an action verb and a resultative word. A resultative word can be a verb or a stative verb describing the outcome of an action. The examples of resultative words are wán to finish as in xiěwán to finish writing and 清楚 qīngchu to be clear as in 清楚 xiěqīngchu to write it clearly. The formula of the resultative verb complements reflects the sequence of action. For instance xiěwán finish writing in Chinese becomes writing finish, as finish is the outcome of the action of writing.

 

Some Chinese verbs are in the form of resultative verb complements such as

看见 kànjiàn to see

听见 tīngjiàn to hear

找到 zhǎodào to find

 

When translating a sentence into Chinese it is important to ask yourself if the verb of the sentence is an action verb of or it is a verb with an outcome.

The following list consists of the most commonly used resultative complements.

 

Verbs

Resultative complements

Examples

look; listen

to sense

你听      歌了 吗?

nĭ tīng jiàn tā chàng gē le ma

Did you hear her singing?

look; listen

to understand

      文。

wŏ méi kàn dŏng kèwén

I didn’t understand the text (by reading through it).

put

to be in/on/at

      了。

shū fang zài zhuōzi shàng le

The book has been put on the table.

give (sth. as a present); take; return; lend

to give (to a person)

词典          了。

cídiăn huángěi Xiăo Wáng le

The dictionary has been returned to Xiao Wang.

   了。

wŏ de shū jiè gěi Dīng Yún le

My book has been lent to Ding Yun.

give (as a present); study; send/post

to reach (to a place)

   了第 课。

wŏmen xué dào le dì sān kè

We have reached Lesson Three.

你的信          宿舍 去了。

nĭde xìn Xiăo Wáng song dào nĭ sùshù qù le

Your letter has been delivered to your dormitory by Xiao Wang.

buy; eat; drink; borrow

to obtain

   地图。

wŏ méi măi dào dì tú

I didn’t get hold of the map.

           点心。

wŏ méi chī dào Xiăo Wáng zuò de  diănxīn

I didn’t get to eat the Dianxin made by Xiao Wang.

study

to master

        文了。

wŏmen dōu xué huì Zhōngwén le

We have all mastered Chinese.

give (as a present); take

to be away

礼物     了。

lĭ  wù song zŏu le

The presents have been delivered.

to take; to remember

to be fixed

     词。

jì  zhù xué guò de shēngcí

Remember the words that (you) have learned. (It implies that you should fix the words into your memory. One could also say

记了,可

wŏ jì le       kěshì méi jì  zhù

I tried, but I failed to remember)

do; write; study

to be satisfactory

  了。

wŏ zuò hăo fàn le

I have finished cooking the meal.

do; write; say

to be wrong

你说   了。

nĭ shuō cuò le

You’ve said it wrong.

   

wŏ méi zuò cuò

I didn’t do it wrong.

do; write; say

to be right

 

write; say

清楚 to be clear

你没     

nĭ méi shuō qīngchu

You didn’t say it clearly.

  了。

wŏ xiě qīngchu le

I’ve written it clearly.

 

When two objects (both direct and indirect) are involved in a sentence, the direct object is often placed at the beginning of the sentence. For example

 

                  了。

shū wǒ jiè gěi Xiǎo Wáng le

I’ve lent the book to Xiao Wang.

 

你的                     了。

nǐ de chènshān wǒ ná dào nǐ de wòshì qù le

I’ve taken your shirt to your bedroom.

 

Both the direct objects of the sentences above, shū book and 你的衬衫 nǐ de chènshān your shirt are placed at the beginning of the sentence. The resultative word gěi to is followed by a person: 小王 Xiǎo Wáng and the resultative word dào to is followed by a place: 你的卧室nǐ de wòshì your bedroom. 

 

Assignments

Frequently asked questions

Click on the following links to view the answers

  1. What are resultative complements?

  2. When should I use resultative verb complements in sentences?

  3. Where does a resultative verb complement go in a sentence?

  4. Where does a resultative verb complement go if a sentence has a direct and indirect object?

  5. Can the particle "" for completed action be used with resultative verb complements?

  6. What are the commonly used resultative complements?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The use of and

cóng  from is used as a co-verb in sentences such as

         他家 来了这儿

Xiǎo Wáng cóng tā jiā lái le zhèr

Xiao Wang came here from his home.

from cannot be used in the same way, but is used to measure the distance between two objects. For instance,

 

A

B

SV

 

   

     远。

wǒ jiā

xuéyuàn

hěn yuǎn

My home is a long way from the college.

A

B

V + distance

 

  

          里。

wǒ jiā

xuéyuàn

yǒu sān yīngliǐ

It is three miles from my home to the college.

A

B

V + duration

 

   

    路一个      时。

wǒ jiā

xuéyuàn

zǒu lù  yī ge xiǎoshí

It takes an hour to walk to the college from my home.

The construction can also be used to measure duration. For example,

A

B

V + duration

   

      一刻 钟。

xiànzài

xiàkè

Háiyǒu yíkè zhōng

It is 15 minutes from now to the end of the class.

 

The co-verbs cóng from and dào to can also be used to measure distance and duration in the following sentence patterns.

 

A

B

SV

 

  

    远。

cóng

wǒ jiā

dào

xuéyuàn

hěn yuǎn

My home is a long way from the college.

A

B

V+ distance

 

   

          里。

cóng

wǒ jiā

dào

xuéyuàn

yǒu sān yīngliǐ

It is three miles from my home to the college.

A

B

V + duration

 

   

   路一      时。

cóng

wǒ jiā

dào

xuéyuàn

zǒu lù yī ge xiǎoshí

It takes an hour to walk to the college from my home.

A

B

V + duration

   

     一刻 钟。

cóng

Xiànzài

dào

xiàkè

háiyǒu yíkè zhōng

It is 15 minis between now and the end of the class.

 

Negation and question words are placed next to the main verbs or stative verbs expressing distance or duration as demonstrated below.

 

A

B

SV

 

   

      ?

wǒ jiā

xuéyuàn

 yuǎn ma

Is it far from my home to the college?

A

B

SV

 

   

   远。

wǒ jiā

xuéyuàn

  yuǎn

It is not far from my home to the college.

A

B

SV

  

     ?

wǒ jiā

xuéyuàn

duō yuǎn

How far is it from my home to the college?

 

Assignments

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Directional Verb Complements

A direction verb complement can be formed by an action verb such as zǒu to walk and a word that expresses direction of action such as jìn in or chū out. For instance:

 

     室。

zǒu jìn jiàoshì

To walk into the classroom.

 

The following list consists of the single directional words.

Verbs

Directional complements

Examples

guà to hàng

dài to wear

shang up, on

     地图

guà shang dì tú

To hang up the map.

     

dài shang màozi

To put on the hat.

fàng to put

xià down

   

fàng xia shū

To put down the book.

zǒu to walk

to take

kāi to drive

jìn in

  了学

chē kāi  jìn le xuéyuàn

The car has been driven into the college.

zǒu to walk

to take

kāi to drive

chū out

   

zǒu chū jiàoshì

To walk out of  the classroom.

zǒu to walk

to take

kāi to drive

to post

huí back

huí jiā

To take (bring) it back home.

  

  huí Zhōngguó

To post it back to China.

zǒu to walk

kāi to drive

guò across, past, over

  了书

zǒu guò le shūdiàn

Walked pass the bookshop.

 

A directional verb complement can also be formed without an action verb by a directional word with lái to come or to go. Both lái and indicate the position of the speaker. lái to come indicates that the direction is moving towards the speaker and to go indicates that the direction is moving away from the speaker. For instance, if your teachers are having a meeting in the classroom and you are outside, you might advise your fellow students:

   

bié jìn qù

Don’t go in.

Another type of directional verb complement is called the combined directional verb complement. This is formed by an action verb, a directional word and lái to come or to go as in:

  进来

zǒujìnlái

Walking in.

 

lái to come in the above phrase indicates that the direction of  jìn entering is moving towards the speaker, in other words the speaker is in the room. Adirect object is often inserted into a combined directional complement. Let’s introduce a subject and an object to the above phrase.

 

                  

Xiǎo Wáng zǒu jìn le jiàoshì  lái

Xiao Wang walked into the classroom. (The speaker is in the classroom.)

 

lái to come implies that the action is moving towards the speaker. In other words, the speaker is in the classroom. You may also have noticed that the aspect particle le is placed after the directional word jìn in. The following list consists of combined directional complements.

 

Verbs

Directional complements

Examples

pǎo to run

zǒu to walk

to take

kāi to drive

上来/shàng lái /qù  on

                            

Xiǎo Wáng pǎo shàng le shān

Xiao Wang ran up the mountain. (The speaker is at the bottom of the mountain.)

                   了一      

Xiǎo Dīng shàng le yì bēi chá lái

Xiao Ding brought up a cup of tea. (The speaker is upstairs.)

zǒu to walk

pǎo to run

to take

kāi to drive

下来/xiàlái /qù down

     了楼 

zǒu xià le lóu lái

He walked down from upstairs. (The speaker is downstairs.)

zǒu to walk

pǎo to run

to take

kāi to drive

进来/jìn lái /qù in

                

bié zǒu jìn gongyuán

Don’t go into the park. (The speaker is outside park.)

zǒu to walk

pǎo to run

to take

kāi to drive

出来/chū lái /qù out

           

zǒu chū le fangjiān lái

She walked out of the room. (The speaker is outside the room.)

zǒu to walk

pǎo to run

to take

kāi to drive

回来/huí lái /qù back

       

pǎo huí le jiā

I ran home. (The speaker is away from home.)

zǒu to walk

pǎo to run

to take

kāi to drive

过来/guò lái /qù across, past, over

了一本    ( 了一本    )

ná guòle yì běn shū lái( ná guòlái le yì běn shū )

She brought over a book.

zhàn to stand

起来qǐ lái up ( is not used with qǐ)

你们              起来

nǐmen dōu zhàn qǐlái

You all stand up.

 

Assignments
Frequently asked questions

Click on the following links to view the answers

  1. What are directional complements?

  2. What are the functions of and in directional complements?

  3. Can a direction word and or be used together?

  4. Can you show me a list of combined directional complements?

  5. Can I use a combined directional complement as the main verb in a sentence?

  6. When do I use the full version of directional verb complements in sentences?

  7. Where should I place the directional verb complements in a sentence?

  8. Where should I place a for completed action when I use a directional complement?

  9. Can the particle be used with a directional complement?

  10. Can the particle be used with a directional complement?   

  11. Where should I place the object of a sentence if a directional verb complement is used?

  12. I have seen some sentences with combined directional complements and complex objects, where or are placed after the complex objects. Can you tell me the reason for this?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Potential Verb Complements

 

A potential verb complement is used to describe the capability of carrying out an action, such as being capable of speaking Chinese or being capable of finishing one’s homework. A potential complement is formed from the following three elements.

1.      an action verb

2.      de (for affirmative) or bu (for negative)

3.       a resultative (apart from , and ) or directional complement.

 

For examples

 

                                                      教室   

kàn de jiàn                                     zǒu bu jìn   jiàoshì

To be able to see                                 To be unable to walk into the classroom

 

The following examples demonstrate how potential verb complements are used in colloquial Chinese. If you can’t hear someone, you might say to him or her:

 

               话。

tīng bu jiàn nǐ shuō de huà

I can’t hear what you are saying.

 

If the door of the classroom is locked, you might say to your teacher:

 

               着,我        

jiàoshì mén guān zhe wǒmen zǒu bu jìn  qù

The classroom door is closed and we can’t get in.

 

If you have too much homework for the day, you might say to your teacher:

 

        习太  了,我        

Jīntiānde liànxí tài duō le   wǒmen zuòbu wán

There are too many exercises and we can’t finish them today.

 
 

The following list consists of those commonly used potential verb complements which have not devolved from resultative and directional verb complements.

Verbs

Potential complements

Examples

chī to eat

shuō to speak,写 xiě to write

zuò to do, to cook

/不了to be able/unable to

他一个人                   事。

tā yí ge rén zuò bu liǎo zhè jiàn shì

He can’t deal with this matter on his own.

to take

zǒu to walk

pǎo to run

/不动 to be able/unable to move

    西   多,我      

dōngxi bu duō, wǒ  ná de dòng

There isn’t so much stuff; I can take it (on my own).

zhù to live, to stay

zuò to sit, to seat

zhàn to stand

/不下 to have/don’t have  room for

                人?

zhè jiān fang zhù de xià jǐ ge rén

How many people can this room accommodate?

fàng  to put

zhào to take (a photo)

/不上can/cannot be fitted on/in

                           吗?

hòu biān de fángzi  zhào de shàng ma

Can the house in the background be fitted into the photo?

mǎi to buy

chī  to eat

to drink

/不起 can/cannot afford

       这儿      子。

mǎi bù qǐ  zhèr de fángzi

I can’t afford to buy the houses round here.

 

Assignments

Frequently asked questions

Click on the following links to view the answers

  1. What are potential complements?

  2. Are there any PVC  which are only used idiomatically?

  3. How can I form a sentence with potential complements?

  4. Can I use the particle for completed action in a sentence which has a potential complement?

  5. How do you differentiate complements of degree ( construction) from potential complements?

  6. Are constructions and potential verb complements interchangeable?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comparatives with stative verbs and complements of degree

 

to compare and 没有méiyou not as…as are used with stative verbs to compare feelings and objects, while the ‘complement of degree’ construction is used when comparing two actions. We will be focusing on the following three sentence patterns in this section.

1.      To compare feelings

Object A

/没有

Object B

Feeling words (V-O)

  

/没有

     

bǐ/méiyou

xiǎngjiā

I’m more home-sick than you. / I’m not as home-sick as you are.

 

Object A

/没有

Object B

Feeling words (V)

  

/没有

喜欢      

bǐ/méiyou

xǐhuān xuéxí

I like studying more than you do. / I don’t like studying as much as you do.

2.      To compare two objects

Object A

/没有

Object B

Stative verb

  

/没有

(  )

wǒ de shū

bǐ/méiyou

nǐ(de shū)

duō

I have more books than you. / I don’t have as many books as you do.

 

Object A

/没有

Object B

Stative verb

           

/没有

(             )

wǒ zuótiān mǎi de shū

bǐ/méiyou

nǐ (zuótiān mǎi de shū)

duō

Yesterday I bought more books than you. / Yesterday I didn’t buy as many books as you did.

 

When the description of “object A” is clear, the description of “object B” can be omitted. The above example, comparing quantities of books (that I bought and you bought yesterday) can also be changed into a comparison of two actions by using the complement of degree construction.

3.      To compare two actions

Action A

/没有

Action B

Result of action

          

/没有

  

wǒ zuótiān mǎi shū

bǐ/méiyou

mǎi de

duō

Yesterday I bought more books than you did. / Yesterday I didn’t buy as many books as you did.

 

You might have noticed that the complement of degree construction is divided into two parts in the above example. The topic, which consists of the SVO, appears in “Action A”, and the extent of the action appears in “Action B”. Let’s look at some more examples.

 

Action A

/没有

Action B

Result of action

     

/没有

    

wǒ xiě Hànzì

bǐ/méiyou

xiě de

piàoliàng

I write Chinese characters more elegantly than you do. / I don’t write Chinese characters as elegantly as you do.

 

The adverb hěn very is not used in comparatives. If the expression “very much” is needed in a sentence, 多了duōle much more can be added after the stative verb or any adverbs. For example:

 

Object A

Object B

Stative verb + 多了

  

(  )

     

wǒ de shū

nǐ(de shū)

duō duōle

I have many more books than you.

 

Action A

Action B

Adverb + 多了

      

           

wǒ xiě Hànzì

nǐ xiě de

piàoliàng duōle

I write Chinese characters much more elegantly than you do.

 

gèng even more / less is placed before a verb to compare the feelings of two people. For example:

 

Object A

Object B

Feeling words (V-O)

  

           

gèng xiǎngjiā

I’m even more home-sick than you.

 

Object A

Object B

Feeling words (V)

  

       喜欢      

gèng xǐhuān xuéxí

I like studying even more than you do.

 

不比 bùbǐ not more than… is another negative comparative construction. The difference between不比 bùbǐ sentences and 没有méiyou sentences is that in a不比 bùbǐ sentence the quality of the object that appears before不比 bùbǐ is not better than that of the object that appears after不比 bùbǐ, but could be of the same quality. However, in 没有méiyou sentences the quality of the object that appears before 没有méiyou is always worse than that of the object that appears after 没有méiyou. For example:

 

Object A

没有

Object B

Stative verb

  

没有

(  )

wǒ de shū

méiyou

nǐ(de shū)

duō

I don’t have as many books as you do.  (You have more books.)

 

Object A

不比

Object B

Stative verb

  

不比

(  )

wǒ de shū

bùbǐ

nǐ(de shū)

duō

I don’t have more books than you. (I may have the same amount as you, but not more.)

 

 

Assignments 

 

Frequently asked questions

Click on the following links to view the answers

  1. How many comparative constructions are there?

  2. How can I form a sentence, and what should I be aware of?

  3. Can the words “very much”, “extremely” and “really” be used in the construction?

  4. How do I form a sentence if I want to describe exactly how much more or less “A” is than “B”?

  5. Can I use to compare feelings and capabilities?

  6. Can I use the construction to compare two actions?

  7. Can I use the construction to compare the difference in quantity between two actions?

  8. Apart from can any other word be used in comparisons?

  9. How can I say that I prefer A to B?

  10. Can I use the negation before ?

  11. Can I use the negation before ?

  12. Are the negative forms of (不比) and (没有) the same?

  13. Can you demonstrate the different degrees of comparison?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comparatives with 一样

The expression 一样yíyàng as same as … is used to make two objects equal.  For example:

 

Object A

Object B

一样

我的书

你的书

一样

wǒ de shū

gēng

nǐ de shū

yíyàng

My book is the same as yours.

 

The negative form of this construction is

 

Object A

Object B

不一样

我的书

你的书

不一样

wǒ de shū

gēng

nǐ de shū

bùyíyàng

My book is not the same as yours.

 

一样 yíyàng can also be used to compare feelings, objects and actions. Let’s use the examples in the above section with the expression 一样yíyàng as same as

1.      To compare feelings

The negating is placed before the co-verb gēng when expressing feelings.

Object A

()

Object B

一样

Feeling words (V-O)

一样

     

gēng

yíyàng

xiǎngjiā

I’m as home-sick as you are.

Object A

()

Object B

一样

Feeling words (V)

  

一样

喜欢      

gēng

yíyàng

xǐhuān xuéxí

I like studying as much as you do.

2.      To compare two objects (the negating is placed before 一样 yíyàng.)

Object A

Object B

()一样

Stative verb

  

(  )

一样

wǒ de shū

gēng

nǐ(de shū)

yíyàng

duō

I have the same number of books as you do.

 

Object A

Object B

()一样

Stative verb

           

(             )

一样

wǒ zuótiān mǎi de shū

gēng

nǐ(zuótiān mǎi de shū)

yíyàng

duō

Yesterday I bought the same number of books as you did.

3.      To compare two actions (the negating is placed before 一样 yíyàng.)

Action A

Action B

()一样

Result of action

          

  

一样

wǒ zuótiān mǎi shū

gēng

nǐ mǎi de

yíyàng

duō

Yesterday I bought the same number of books as you did.

 

Action A

Action B

()一样

Result of action

     

一样

   

wǒ xiě Hànzì

gēng

nǐ xiě de

yíyàng

piàoliàng

I write Chinese characters as elegantly as you do.

 

Assignments

Frequently asked questions

Click on the following links to view the answers

  1. How can I form a sentence with ... ...

  2. What is the difference between sentences and ...一样... sentences?

  3. What is the difference between the constructions A B 一样 and A B 一样?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The sentence construction

 

The construction is used to talk about, for example: handling or disposing of a particular object (such as sending a particular letter to somewhere); saying a particular sentence clearly; or putting something somewhere.

 

The verbs used in sentences take complicated forms such resultative complements, directional complements and the complement of degree. Because of the complex use of verbs in the construction, it is important to learn or revise the grammar points that are in the other sections relating to the construction before embarking on this section.

 

Although is not often used as a verb in modern Chinese, it still retains the meaning of to hold or to grasp.  In this section I will introduce as a co-verb in the construction. Please note in this context that sequence is important in Chinese when it comes to describing actions. The first action in a sequence should come first in an utterance. The way to learn co-verb sentences properly is to understand the description of sequence in Chinese word order.

 

Click the following links to view the Flash files.

To send a letter to China. To put a cup on the table. To finish drinking the wine.

 

The following two patterns are commonly used to form sentences.

 

1.      A sentence with a verb and direct and indirect objects

 

S

()

O direct

V+ other element

O indirect

    

   

    

Xiǎo Lǐ

xìn

jì   gěi le

Xiǎo Wang

Xiao Li has sent the letter to Xiao Wang.

 

 

S

()

O direct

V+ other element

O indirect

    

        

中国           

Xiǎo Lǐ

xìn

jì  dào

Zhōngguó qù le

Xiao Li has sent the letter to China.

 

These two sentences show how the direct and indirect objects are connected by the verb complements jì gěi send to and jì dào send to. (The complement gěi to is followed by persons and the complement dào to is followed by places.) The above examples also demonstrate that ‘aspect’ le is placed after the verbs: in the first example it is placed after jì gěi send to and in the second example it is placed after .

 

2.      A sentence with a verb and an object

 

S

()

O

V+ other element

   

     

méi bǎ

huà

shuō qīngchǔ

You didn’t say it clearly.

 

The negation méi did not is placed before the co-verb in the above sentence. Modal verbs, adverbial de and co-verb phrases can also precede bǎ. For example

 

S

                   

O

V+ other element

               

              吗?

yào              bǎ

huà

shuō qīngchu  ma

Would you like to say it clearly?

 

S

                   

O

V+ other element

在这儿       

           楚。

zài zhèr       bǎ

huà

shuō qīngchu

Say it clearly here.

 

S

                     

O

V+ other element

一句一句地

           楚。

yí jùyí jù de   bǎ

huà

shuō qīngchu

Say it clearly, sentence by sentence.

 

The following list consists of five types of the most common elements that can be attached to verbs in sentences.

 

1.      Complement of degree

S

O

V+ complement of degree

                     

huà

shuō de fēicháng qīngchu

You’ve said it very clearly indeed.

 

2.      Resultative complements apart from

S

O

V+ resultative complement

           了。

huà

shuō chuò le

You’ve said it wrong.

 

3.      Directional complements

S

O

V+ directional complement

衬衫

进来

chènshān

ná jìnlai

Bring in the shirt.

 

4.      action measures

S

O

V+ action measure

房间

      理一下

fángjiān

zhěnglǐ yíxià

Tidy up the room a little.

 

5.      (as a continuous aspect)

S

O

V+

 

mén

kāi zhe

Leave the door open.

 

Potential verb complements are not used in the construction; instead the modal verb néng is placed before .

 

S

          

O

V+ other element

      

       ?

néng  bǎ

fàn

chī wán ma

Can you finish this meal?

 

 

Assignments

 

Frequently asked questions

Click on the following links to view the answers

  1. When can I use sentences?

  2. How can I form a sentence with ?

  3. What are the commonly used attached verb elements in the construction?

  4. Apart from a subject of a sentence, what other elements which can be placed before ?

  5. Where should the negation be placed if the (complement of degree) construction is used in a sentence?

  6. Sometimes a sentence contains only a simple main verb and the particle . Does that mean that any simple verb + can be used in sentences?

  7. Is it right that the construction can only be used for real objects, and not for abstract objects?

  8. What shouldn't be used in sentences?

  9. When can I avoid using ?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Passive with , , and

 

In Chinese, the passive constructions with bèi ràng jiào and gěi are not as frequently used as are passive constructions in English. For instance, when translating the previous sentence into Chinese, one would not use the bèi construction.

 

1. The co-verbs bèi ràng jiào and gěi are used to introduce the agent of a passive sentence, as in 我的车被小王借走了wǒ de chē bèi Xiǎo Wáng jiè zǒu le my car has been borrowed by Xiao Wang. The co-verb bèi introduces the agent, Xiao Wang, who has carried out the action of borrowing. All the co-verbs above have the same function when introducing the agent of a passive sentence, but bèi is the most commonly used. The following tables show the sentence components that are used in the bèi construction.

 

sbject

bèi/ràng/jiào/gěi

agent

verb + other elements

我的车

/让/  /给

    

wǒ de chē

bèi/ràng/jiào/gěi

Xiǎo Wáng

jiè zǒu le

My car has been borrowed by Xiao Wang.

 

sbject

bèi/ràng/jiào/gěi

agent

verb + other elements

我的车

/让/  /给

    

          

wǒ de chē

bèi/ràng/jiào/gěi

Xiǎo Wáng

kāi       huí jiā qù le

My car has been driven back home by Xiao Wang.

 

You might have noticed that the ‘action verb plus other element’ constructions used in the above sentences are complicated ones. Which elements that can be used with verbs in a bèi construction? Let’s look at the following list.

 

2. The elements that are commonly preceded by verbs in the bèi construction are:

 

--resultative complements

--directional complements

--the complement of degree

--action measures

 

As you may have noticed, the elements that are used in the bèi sentence construction are very similar to the ones used in the construction. After learning the examples below please try to reformulate them as constructions.

 

sbject

bèi/ràng/jiào/gěi

Agent

verb + resultative complement

电视

/让/  /给

     

      

diànshì

bèi/ràng/jiào/gěi

Xiǎo Wáng

xiū   hǎo le

The TV has been mended by Xiao Wang.

 

 

sbject

bèi/ràng/jiào/gěi

agent

verb + directional complement

我的车

/让/  /给

    

         

wǒ de chē

bèi/ràng/jiào/gěi

Xiǎo Wáng

kāi      huí jiā le

My car has been driven back home by Xiao Wang.

 

sbject

bèi/ràng/jiào/gěi

agent

verb + complement of degree

房间

/让/  /给

    

打扫         干净

fángjiān

bèi/ràng/jiào/gěi

Xiǎo Wáng

dǎsǎo de hěn gānjìng

The room has been cleaned up very nicely by Xiao Wang.

 

sbject

bèi/ràng/jiào/gěi

agent

verb + action measure

   

/让/  /给

    

    一会儿

wǒ de chē

bèi/ràng/jiào/gěi

Xiǎo Wáng

yòng le yíhuòr

My car has been used by Xiao Wang for a little while.

 

3. bèi can also be used to form a passive sentence without introducing an agent, but gěi  jiào and ràng cannot be used in this way. For example,

 

sbject

bèi

verb + other elements

   

         

wǒ de chē

bèi

kāi      huí jiā qù le

My car has been driven back home.

 

sbject

bèi

verb + other elements

   

        

diànshì

bèi

xiū     hǎo le

The TV has been mended.

 

sbject

bèi

verb + other elements

   

打扫           

fángjiān

bèi

dǎsǎo de hěn gānjìng

The room has been cleaned up very nicely.

 

sbject

bèi

verb + other elements

课文

翻译            语了

kèwén

bèi

fānyì chéng Hànyǔ le

The room has been cleaned up very nicely.

 

4. The above examples also indicate that aspect le is used when expressing the idea of an action that has happened. méi not can be followed by the co-verb bèi to change the above examples into the negative form in order to deny that the action has taken place. For example,


If someone says that:

sbject

bèi

agent

verb + resultative complement

   

    

         

diànshì

bèi

Xiǎo Wáng

xiū      hǎo le

The TV has been mended by Xiao Wang.

 

You can deny that the action has taken place by saying:

sbject

méi bèi

agent

verb + resultative complement

电视

   

小王

 

diànshì

méi bèi

Xiǎo Wáng

xiū   hǎo

The TV hasn’t been mended by Xiao Wang.

 

If someone says that:

sbject

bèi

verb + complement of degree

房间

打扫           

fángjiān

bèi

dǎsǎo de hěn gānjìng

The room has been cleaned up very nicely.

 

You can deny that the outcome of the action by saying:

sbject

bèi

verb + complement of degree (bu)

房间

          

fángjiān

bèi

dǎsǎo de buhěn gānjìng

The room has been cleaned up very nicely.

 

5. Adverbs that are used to describe actions are placed before the verb in a bèi construction, unlike adverbs that are used in the construction, which are followed by the co-verb . Let’s see look at some examples.

 

sbject

bèi

agent

adverbial phrase + de

verb + other elements

课文

     

              

  了一遍

kèwén

bèi

Xiǎo Wáng

Qīngqīngchǔchǔ    de

niàn le yíbiàn

The text has been read out very clearly by Xiao Wang.

 

If we use this information to form a sentence it would become:

sbject

adverbial phrase + de

object

verb + other elements

小王

              

课文

  了一遍

Xiǎo Wáng

qīngqīngchǔchǔ    de

kèwén

niàn le yíbiàn

Xiao Wang has read the text out loud very clearly.

 


Assignments

Frequently asked questions

Click on the following links to view the answers

  1. When should I use sentences?

  2. Which verb forms are used in sentences?

  3. How can I form sentences?

  4. Sentence pattern 1

  5. Sentence pattern 2

  6. Can all sentences be turned into sentences?

  7. Do sentences always have a negative sense?

  8. Can a simple monosyllabic verb be used in the construction?

  9. Should the agent always appear after ?

  10. Is there any other difference between , , and in passive sentences?

  11. Is it necessary to use or if the agent is not there?

  12. When an active sentence is changed into a passive one, is the emphasis of the sentence also changed?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Notional passive (without , , and )

 

6. A notional passive sentence is formed without the co-verbs bèi ràng jiào and gěi. Let’s use the examples that we have used in the previous section to form some notional passive sentences.

 

sbject

verb + other elements

 

            去了

wǒ de chē

kāi        huí jiā qù le

My car has been driven back home.

 

sbject

verb + other elements

  

       好了

diànshì

xiū     hǎo le

The TV has been mended.

 

sbject

verb + other elements

房间

          

fángjiān

dǎsǎo de hěn gānjìng

The room has been cleaned up very nicely.

 

As the subjects in the above examples cannot carry out actions themselves, then we assume that the actions must have been undertaken by someone else. In fact this sentence pattern is very useful for describing how an object has been dealt with. For example:

 

sbject

verb + other elements

                 

shū

fàng zài zhuōzi shàng le

The book has been put on the table.

 

sbject

verb + other elements

            去了

fàn

ná shàng lóu qù le

The meal has been brought upstairs.

 

The verb components in the notional passive are very similar to those of the bèi construction. They are action verbs with other elements, as shown below.

 

--resultative complements

--directional complements

--the complement of degree

--action measures

 

 

sbject

verb + resultative complement

          

fàn

zuò     hǎo le

The book has been put on the table.

 

sbject

verb + directional complement

                 

fàn

ná       shàng lóu le

The meal has been brought upstairs.

 

sbject

verb + complement of degree

房间

          

fángjiān

dǎsǎo de hěn gānjìng

The room has been cleaned up very nicely.

 

sbject

verb + action measure

课文

       

kèwén

niàn le liǎng biàn

The text has been read twice.

 

méi not can be used to deny that the above actions have taken place, but bu is used with the complement of degree.

 

sbject

méi verb + resultative complement

           

fàn

méi zuò     hǎo

The meal hasn’t been prepared.

 

sbject

méi verb + directional complement

                

fàn

méi ná   shàng lóu qù  

The meal hasn’t been brought upstairs.

 

sbject

verb + complement of degree (bu)

  

打扫           

fángjiān

dǎsǎo de bu hěn gānjìng

The room hasn’t been cleaned up very nicely.

 

sbject

méi verb + action measure

课文

            

kèwén

méi niàn liǎng biàn

The text hasn’t been read twice. (It implies that the text may only have been read once, or possibly three times.)

 

 

Assignments 

 

Frequently asked questions

Click on the following links to view the answers

  1. When should I use this construction?

  2. Are there any differences between the sentences without and ones with ?

  3. What do I need to form this type of sentences?

  4. Are there any other constructions in the passive voice, apart from , , , sentences and notional passives?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conjunctions

 

I will introduce ten of the most commonly used Chinese conjunctions in this section.

 

Chinese

Pinyin

English

要是

yàoshì…jiù… 

ifthen

要不

…yàobú…

otherwise

只要

zhǐyào… jiù… 

as long as...; provided that

只有

zhǐyǒu cái

only…; only when

因为所以

yīnwèi suǒyǐ

because therefore

不但而且

búdàn érqiě

not onlybut also

虽然但是

suīrán dànshì

although……

除了以外

chúle yǐwài,…

apart from

yuè yuè

the more/lessthe more/less it becomes

jiù

as soon asthen

 

Sentence patterns 1 - 4 above are conditional constructions.

 

1.      要是 yàoshì jiù…  ifthen… A condition is placed after 要是 yàoshì and is followed by the jiù clause which indicates the consequence of the condition. The adverb jiù must be placed before verbs or stative verbs. For example, a parent might say to a child:

 

             语,   我            钱。

yàoshì nǐ xué hǎo Hànyǔ,        wǒ  jiù gěi nǐ hěn duō qián

If you learn Chinese well, I’ll give you a lot of money.

 

2. …要不 yàobú…otherwise.  The clause that precedes 要不 yàobú indicates a required condition and an undesirable result is placed after 要不 yàobú otherwise. For example, a strict parent might say to a child:

 

应该             汉语,         钱。

nǐ yīnggāi xué hǎo Hànyǔ,    yàobu wǒ bù gěi nǐ  qián

You should learn Chinese well, otherwise I won’t give you any money.

 

3.  只要 zhǐyào… jiùas long as...; provided that…The 只要 zhǐyào clause is used to introduce a condition that can be easily achieved, or is a minimum requirement, and the jiù clause introduces the outcome of the condition. The adverb jiù must be placed before verbs or stative verbs. For example, a lenient parent might say to his or her child:

 

只要         语,            钱。

zhǐyào nǐ xué Hànyǔ,     wǒ jiù gěi nǐ hěn duō qián

As long as you learn Chinese, I’ll give you a lot of money.

 

4.  只有 zhǐyǒucáionly…The 只有 zhǐyǒu clause is used to introduce a condition that is hard to achieve, and the cái clause introduces the outcome of the condition. The adverb cái must be placed before verbs or stative verbs. For example, if a parent desperately wants his or her child to learn Chinese well he or she might say:

 

只有       汉语    好,         钱。

zhǐyǒu nǐ bǎ Hànyǔ xué hǎo,   wǒ cái gěi nǐ qián

Only when you have learned Chinese well will I give you money.

 

5.  因为 yīnwèi所以 suǒyǐbecausetherefore… A friend might want to know why a parent has given a lot of money to her child. The parent might say:

 

           语,             钱。

yīnwèi tā xué hǎo le Hànyǔ,     suǒyǐ wǒ gěi tā hěn duō qián

As he has learned Chinese well, I’ve given him a lot of money.

 

6.  不但 búdàn而且 érqiěnot onlybut also 不但 búdàn and 而且 érqiě can be placed before the subject or the verb of their clauses: this depends on the emphasis required. If the emphasis is on the subject then they should be placed before the subject; if the emphasis is on the action then they should be placed before the verb. After completing his Chinese degree, the student has got his reward from his parent. He might say:

 

  不但          了汉   语, 而且           钱。

búdàn xué huì le Hànyǔ,     érqiě nádào le hěnduō qián

I’ve not only learned Chinese, but have also got a lot of money.

 

      The following example shows 不但 búdàn and 而且 érqiě are used for emphasizing the subjects. As the material reward scheme is very successful, the parent's youngest son wants to learn Chinese as well.

 

   大儿子      语,       儿子也         语。

búdàn dà érzi xué le Hànyŭ     érqiě  xiăo érzi yě yào xué Hànyŭ

Not only the oldest son studied Chinese, but also the youngest son would like to learn Chinese as well.

 

 

7.  虽然 suīrán但是 dànshìAlthough…, …  The 虽然 suīrán although clause should precede 但是 dànshì clause. Unlike the English ‘although’ construction, the second clause should always start with 但是 dànshì or 可是 kěshì but… For example, if the parent breaks her promise and doesn’t give money to the student, the student might say:

 

 虽然             语,             钱。

suīrán xué hǎo le   Hànyǔ,   dànshì méi nádào qián

Although I’ve learned Chinese well, I haven’t got the money (that was promised).

 

8.  jiùas soon asthen…This construction is used to express the idea of a second action immediately following the first action. Both and jiù should be followed by verbs. The aspect le is not used in the clause. For example:

 

              爸爸               钱。

xué wán    Hànyǔ , tā bàba jiù gěi  le   tā hěn duō qián

As soon as he completed the Chinese course, his father gave him a lot of money.

 

9.  yuè yuèthe morethe more.  The conditional clause following the first yuè shows the extent of the feeling, state or action; the second yuè clause shows the result. yuè should always be placed before a verb, stative verb or adverb. However, yuè precedes the result of an action with a complement of degree. For example:

 

                  易。

Hànyǔ yuè   xué yuè róngyi

The more one studies Chinese, the easier it becomes.

 

                            多。

wǒ xué de yuè duō ná dào de qián yuè duo

The more I learn the more money I get.

 

                               学。

wǒ ná dào de qián yuè duo yuè xiǎng xué

The more money I get, the more I want to learn.

 

10.  除了chúle以外 yǐwài, … Apart from…The 除了chúle以外 yǐwài clause can be followed by clauses with the following adverbs.: hái in addition, yòu again; in addition, also, dōu all. For example:

 

         外,我     日语。

chúle  Hànyǔ yǐ wài,    wǒ hái xué le  Rì yǔ

Apart from Chinese, I’ve learned Japanese.

 

            外,老   这儿  喝酒。

chúle xuésheng yǐ wài,  lǎoshi  yě lài zhèr hē jiǔ

Apart from students, teachers also come here to drink.

 

           外,大家             了。

chúle Dīng Yún yǐ wài,   dàjiā dōu lái shàng kè le

Everyone came to the lesson apart from Ding Yun.

 

           外,我    喝了 一杯。

chúle  tā gěi wǒ de nà bēi jiǔ yǐ wài,   wǒ yòu hē le yì bēi

I had another glass of wine, as well as the one that he gave me.

 

 

Assignments

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The shi ... de  construction

 

We have learned that the shì de construction is used to emphasis stative verbs, for example, 这条裙子是新的 zhè tiáo qúnzi shì xīn de this skirt is new. In this session I would like to introduce the other two usages of theshì de construction.

 

1.      shì de is used for emphasis in the past of time when and the way something is done. For example, when you want to tell someone that it was last May that you went to China by train, the shì de construction should be used as demonstrated below.

 

                             

shì  qùnián wǔyuè zuò huǒchē qù Zhōngguó de

 

As you may have noticed, shì and de are used like a “frame” that includes the time, the method, the action and the place. If the object of a sentence has no description or has no any other subordination, like the one above, de can be placed after the verb to emphasize the place. In other words, the sentence above could look like this

 

                             国。

shì qùnián wǔyuè zuò huǒchē qù  de Zhōngguó

 

2.      shì de can also be used to emphasise the agent of a sentence. For instance:

 

              

zhè jiàn shì shì wǒ zuò de

It was me who did this.

 

              

zhèběn shū shì Lǔxùn xiě de

It was Luxun who wrote that book. / That book was written by Luxun.

 

When translating a passive English sentence into Chinese, it is important to identify the emphasis of the sentence first. If the emphasis is on the agent, then theshì de construction should be applied. On the other hand, if the emphasis is on the outcome of an action, but not on the agent, then the bèi construction or notional passive construction should be applied. For example

 

                  

zhuōzi shàng de cài shì wǒ chī de.

It was me who ate the food on the table.

 

              (      了。

zhuōzi shàng de cài (bèi wǒ) chī wán le.

The food that was on the table has been eaten (by me).

 

 

Assignments

Frequently asked question

Click on the following link to view the answer

What is the difference between sentences and ... sentences, as in 这本书是他写的?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The uses of question words with dou and ye

 

These constructions are used for general categorisation. They can describe how a particular action applies to a general object, as in什么东西 shénme dōngxi dōu chī I eat anything; 哪儿都 năr dōu I go anywhere.  They can also describe people in general doing a particular type of thing, as in 谁都喜欢吃中国菜 shuí dōu xĭhuān chī Zhōngguó cài everyone likes eating Chinese food.

 

The question word 什么 shénme what is placed before a noun to imply any or every, and can refer to the subject or object of a sentence. If 什么 shénme any or every is used as the object, it should be placed before the adverb dōu both, all, and can be placed before or after the subject of a sentence. The adverb dōu is placed before the verb, as illustrated below.

 

S.

O.

V.

   么 东  西

shénme dōngxi

dōu

chī

I eat anything. Or

O.

S.

V.

      西

shénme dōngxi

dōu

chī

 

The question words 哪儿 nǎr where and shuí who can be used in the same way as 什么 shénme what.

 

S.

那儿 (O.)

V.