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Zh ngwén y f (Chinese grammar)

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Chinese grammar in Standard Mandarin shares a similar system of grammar with the many language varieties or dialects of the Chinese language, different from those employed by other language families, and comparable to the similar features found within theSlavic languages or Semitic languages. Beyond genetic similarities within the Sino-Tibetan language family to which Chinese belongs, there are also strong similarities within the East Asian sprachbund, a group of mutually-influenced but not directly related languages, including Japanese and Korean. One key feature of Chinese grammar is that all words have only one grammatical form, as, with minor exceptions, the language lacks conjugation, declension, or any other inflection. Functions such as number in nouns or tenses in verbs are expressed through word order or particles; thus, where nouns in other languages might be distinguished by singular and plural ("woman" and "women") or verbs by number or person ("I go", "he goes"),Chinese lexemes are typically invariant.

Topic prominence
Chinese is considered to be a topic-prominent language ( huàtí y uxi n y yán [ ]), where the topic of the sentence (defined as "old" information whereupon the sentence is based) takes precedence in the sentence. For example, the following sentences do not seem to follow normal subject-first word order, but adhere perfectly to the topiccomment structure (Traditional Characters in square brackets):

verbs and adjectives precede the head (modified item). where almost all modifiers of nouns.[1] results in a change of state in the object. as is often the case in SOV languages. there are two types of accusative cases in Mandarin. for example: [ ] "by me ridden horse" = the horse that I have ridden [ ] "(give people worries)'s matter" or "to people worrisome matter" = matter that worries people g i r é n f á n n o d e shì qing bèiw q í guò d e m y y Moreover. but Mandarin also has many characteristics of SOV languages like Turkish and Japanese. [ Literally: Food do e complete LE. Chinese uses postpositions in many constructions rather than prepositions.) f à n zuò h o l è j n ti n p á sh n y Mandarin is often classified as an SVO language. Accusative I is the typical subject-verb-object ordering. as is often the case in SVO languages. "we" or "I" or "o r school gro p") wo ld be determi ed b co te t. This is a e ample of a pro-drop se te ce. because verbs precede rat er t an follow objects in simple sentences. also known as the b co str ctio . Accusative II. This is clearest in word order. for example: zhu z i shàng y "table-on" = on the table fáng z i l y miàn [ "house-inside" = inside the house Mandarin also relies on the formation of adjectival phrases rather than subordination. Hence y y y y y Prepositional phrases modifying a verb precede the verb Genitive constructions precede the head noun Relative clauses precede the head noun Adjectives precede nouns The standard of comparison in a comparative adjective precedes the adjective Furthermore. and implies a stronger sense in which something is ¢ ¥ ¦ ¥ ¢ ¡       ¡       £ ¤   ¢ ¢     . (A car i parked in t e court ard. verb phrases come at the end of a clause if the object or indirect object is "marked.yuàn z i l y In t [ court rd i parked a car. (Food is ready. The s bject of this se te ce (for i sta ce. rather than follow the head. tomorrow camp outdoors." For example.) míng ti n y yíng tíng zhe y í liàng ch y [ Today cli mountains.

w y d b and by a movement of the verb phrase [ I broke the plate. ¨ §  © . Aspects Aspect is a feature of grammar that gives information about the temporal flow of language. (Accusative I). (Accusative II) w y d [ ] I hit a telephone (I made a phone call). Chinese has a uni ue set of aspects: for example. vers s w b pán z i d pò l e p ò l e pán z i ] y [ ] I (acc. often used in a time-delimited context such as "today" or "last week"). [ ] I've been a soldier before (but no longer am). y le (perfective) w o d ng l e b ng [ ] I became a soldier (and I still am). (Accusative I). t o [ ] He watched three ballgames (and he probably has watched many during his lifetime. sentences with an indirect object marked by the dative / g i± or sentences in the passive construction (with the subject prefixed by bèi±) follow SOV word ordering: [ Don't (dat.done to the object. t y bè iw d l e y í dùn b ú yào g i w p im pì y ] [ ] He by me beaten (up) (He was beaten up by me). and is marked with the prefix to the end of the clause. kàn l e s n ch ng q i ú s à i y g o (experiential perfective) w d ng guo b ng 1. (-le) and / (-g o) which subtly differ in meaning. vers s w b t d l e y í g è diànhuà y [ I him beat (up).)-plate broke (and it is no longer intact). (Accusative II) l e y í dùn ] Similarly.)-me flatter (Don't flatter me). there are two perfectives.

in the context of actions like "watch" or "take part.g. used to express mood. Among them. Mood y qì "mood" Another category of devices unique to Chinese are the modal particles ( y qì zhùcí). but merely denotes that the action was in the past and describes the state of affairs up to now). this does not have the same connotation of the first usage. (The "hanging" is a continuous dynamic event. [ ] He has watched three ballgames (and that is the sum of all the ballgames he has ever watched. t zhè gzai d zhe diànhuà "He is in the middle of telephoning someone".) If phrasing the sentence to mean "in the middle of". I have no money. and could possibly be translated as "walk a little walk". then zhè gzai would be best. zhe." which can easily be repeated. (I've gone broke. ] This sentence could variably be expressed by z u yi z u. which means the same thing. (zhè gzài-) and kàn guo s n ch ng q i ú s à i The two imperfectives. The two imperfectives may both occur in the same clause. while "A picture's [in the middle of] hanging on the wall" would take zhe. (The "hanging" is a continuous current state.) y Hai (pending)      / (-zhe) also differ in nuance:  f ú huà . the most important are: y Le (inceptive) w o méi y u qián l e [ ] As of now. "I'm [in the middle of] hanging pictures up" could be equivalent to zhè gzài. e. otherwise.) y zhe (static) qiáng shàng guà zhe y o [ ] A picture's hanging on the wall. y zhè gzài/zài (dynamic) w o zhèng z a i guà huà ( ) [ ] I'm hanging pictures up. or an expression of how a statement relates to reality and/or intent.t 2.[citation needed ] y Reduplication is used to form the delimitative aspect ² an action that goes on for a little bit: w o dào g ng yuán z u z u [ I'm going for a walk in the park.

Essentially. Japanese and Korean (Japanese grammar. it is generally mandatory. Western texts concerning themselves with Chinese grammar sometimes refer to this as double verbs. Korean grammar). He is trying to convince her to travel to where he is for some celebration. The modal particle le comes at the end of a sentence and governs the entire sentence. Because of this.[2] The Chinese linguist Y.t o [ ] He still has not returned home. Consider the following sentence: m ma l ái l e ! [ ] The aspect marker le comes after a transitive or intransitive verb.[3] The fact that they are now written the same way in Mandarin can cause confusion. which appear before the main verb. and coverbs. Such stacking is also present in Turkish (similar to compound verb formation with gitmek. Seri l verb constructions Serial verb construction is a basic feature of Chinese grammar. When an intransitive verb comes at the end of a sentence. in which two or more verbs are concatenated together. the active verb of a sentence is suffixed with a second verb which indicates either the result of the first action. or the direction in which it took the subject. serial verb construction typically manifests itself in two ways: verbal complements. When such information is appropriate. (There has been no change in the old situation) h á i méi y u huí j i The perfective le and the inceptive le are often considered to be two different words. there is a knock on the front door and someone who has gone to answer the door shouts. and olarak) and in the two other major languages of the Northeast Asia region. In one case. "M ma (yào) lái le!" That sentence gives the information that Mother had not previously agreed to travel here. but the situation has changed and she will be coming after all. however. someone is perhaps engaged in a long distance telephone call with Mother. then the only way to determine whether the le at the end of the sentence is perfective or inceptive is to look at the social context.R. Complement of Result jiégu b y "complement of result" . The sentence given above can have two different meanings. vermek. Chao (Zhào Yuánrèn) traces the two "le"s back to two entirely different words. Chinese has developed powerful grammatical machinery which facilitates the construction of sentences that supply this information. Also known as verb stacking. If. where applicable. Verbal Complements Chinese sentences typically concern themselves greatly with the result and direction of a verb. which appear after the main verb. He hangs up the phone and says. "M ma lái le!" it means that she has come.

This use of the complement of result (to simply negate certain verbs) is quite common. construct a possible complement using (le). . being only a possibility. Further. Expressions such as [ ] (è s le. t ng d ng y [ ] To understand (something you hear) Positive absolute complement of result méi t ng d ng y [ ] To have not understood (something you hear) Negative absolute complement of result Note that the existence of an absolute complement of result forces the active verb into the perfective aspect. the verb [ ] (t ng. as discussing the absolute result of an unfinished action would be meaningless ² hence the use of [ ] (méi) to negate the verb. and is used frequently in Chinese. although it is possible to do so with (li o) (same character. and the other a possible or likely outcome. though. "to understand". Those verbs which can be negated with a complement of result often must be negated with a complement of result. meaning (I'm) extremely angry) pepper the language. (le) means "finished" or "already". t ng d e d ng y [ ] To be able to understand (something you hear) Positive possible complement of result This form is equivalent in meaning to [ ]néng t ng d ng able to (because of the situation. To illustrate. different sound). can obviously not be in a completed state. to be unable to stand (tolerate) something or someone. "to know") will serve as the complement of result. as it is impossible to. for example. and that the use of (bù). . literally: hungry-till-die already. The complement of result is a tremendously powerful construction. meaning (I'm) starving) and [ ] (qì s le. The similarity ends there. as in "I can't stand it!"). not skill) understand something t ng b ù d ng y [ ] To be unable to understand (something you hear) Negative possible complement of result Note that the result is negated in this construction. and (d ng. not the active verb. "to listen") will serve as the active verb. literally: mad-till-die already. not [ ] (méi) is required because the resulting action. so it makes sense that placing it after the verb should force the active verb's aspect into the perfective. Although this latter reading has the same meaning as the former in principle. for example.A complement of result comes in two flavors: one indicates an absolute outcome. in a complement of result it simply indicates inability with some verbs (for example. it is possible to analyze many of the aspect suffixes from the perspective of a complement of result.

the two directional complements (qù. these are only found in an absolute form. although counter-examples of course exist ( [ ] or . He hit/dropped the plate. the phrases . [ ] (gùo lái. Typically. (directional suffixes indicating "up" and "towards".) y Classifiers liàngcí "measure word" . which may then be themselves affixed to a verb (such as [ ]. such as (shàng qù. I can't understand this movie (even though I watched it. to go) and [ ] (lái. and [ ] all use (q . respectively) are not obviously related to that character's actual meaning. respectively. [ ]. to walk over). z u gùo qù. but their meanings (to look down upon. is a suffix to the first.) (double-verb as well. where literally means to be unable to look up to (look down). to be unable to get up out of bed). to come over). to ascend). and to be unable to afford.) zhè(i b ù diàn y ng w kàn b ù d ng y [ ] literal: This movie I look-no-understand. suffixes the first and clarifies the possibility and success of the relevant action. "understand". where the second verb. At its simplest. He walked up (towards me). and indicates what happens to the object as a result of the action. For example. to come) may be affixed to the end of a verb to indicate that it moves somehow away or towards the speaker. "break". These may be compounded with other verbs that further specify the direction. (double-verb where the second verb. idiomatic phrases develop using the complement of result that seem to have no relation whatsoever to the result in question. This is partially the result of metaphorical construction. Other examples t y b pán z i d pò l e [ ] literal: he OBJ-plate hit-break-PF.) Complement of direction q xiàng b y "complement of direction" The direction of an action that moves must typically be specified. and [ ] to be unable to face (someone). to rise up) as their complement of result.Sometimes. Another example: y [ ] literal: he walk-up-come-PF. to apologize. and it broke.

" . the vast majority of words generally use " / gè". as in the cited example of "cattle". Chinese nouns require classifiers (also termed measure words) in order to be counted. " b " for objects with handles (e. ropes. Hence one must say " / two heads of cattle". Bottle in "two bottles of wine" or piece in "three pieces of paper" are examples. "that / that (in direction of addressee) / this / a house" are " / / nèizuò / nàzuò / zhèzuò / y zuò fángzi.g. " g u" means "dog" or "the dog." while another word for chair or stool. " dèngzi" is a " " noun. one does not typically say. with " / head" being the unit of measurement. While there are dozens. when specifying the amount of a countable noun. snakes or fish). etc. not two cows. That is. unless talking about types of wine or academic research respectively. The endings for the indefinite and demonstrative article must also agree with the appropriate classifier for a noun." Similarly. knives." But to specify "that / that (in direction of addressee) / this dog" (demonstrative) one says " / [ / ] nèizh / nàzh / zhèizh g u. which must be memorized individually for each noun. the classifier has to agree with the noun. or measure word." where the ending " [ ] -zh " agrees with the classifier of the noun " g u. of classifiers that exist. "Table" ( zhu zi) is a zh ng noun probably because table-top is sheetlike and "chair" ( y zi) is a b noun probably we move a chair by lifting a "handle.Finally. and many of those that may use others can also use " / " if the speaker chooses. some words. umbrellas) " / zh ng" for flat objects that can be counted as sheets in English (photographs. analogous to the neuter gender. fur. such as " / tiáo" for long. if not hundreds. For example. thin objects or animals (e. "two wines" or "three papers". are often paired with a noun used much like the Chinese measure word. (In English.). This phenomenon is common in East Asian languages.) Classifiers are generally associated with certain groups of nouns related by meaning.g. The classifiers for many nouns appear arbitrary." and to say "a dog" one says " [ ] y zh g u." where the ending " -zuò" agrees with the noun " fángzi.