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Making Sense of Grammar
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Where to place time phrases in a Chinese sentence?

asked Mar 4 in Questions about Chinese Grammar by admin (24,470 points)

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Locative phrases (phrases denoting locations, such as at the schoolor on the table) may come before or after the verb. Preverbal locative phrases normally refer to where an action took place (e.g. I read the book at the library), whereas postverbal locative phrases generally denote the place where something or someone ends up being as the result of an action (e.g. I put the book on the bookshelf).

1) tā zài zhuōzi – shang  tiào

    3sg at table  – on  jump

    S/He jumped (up and down) on the table.

2) tā  tiào zài  zhuōzi – shang 

    3sg jump  at table  – on

    S/He jumped onto the table.(Li & Thompson, 1989, p. 22)

In (1), the table is where the jumping occurs, whereas in (2), the table is where the jumper ends up being.


Li, C. N., & Thompson, S. A. (1989). Mandarin Chinese: A functional reference grammar. Univ of California Press.

answered Mar 4 by admin (24,470 points)
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