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Making Sense of Grammar
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Where should adverbs be placed in Chinese sentences?

asked Jan 2, 2018 in Questions about Chinese Grammar by admin (23,690 points)
edited Apr 25, 2018 by admin

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Normally, a Chinese adverb follows the noun at the beginning of a clause but precedes the verb of the clause such as 天天 (ti¯anti¯an/ everyday) and 都 (d¯ou/ all) in the following example:

              他天天都上班。

               t¯a ti¯an-tian d¯ou sh`ang b¯an

              He goes to work every day.

However, according to Li and Thompson’s finding, time, space, frequency, and evaluative adverbs are movable and can be placed to the beginning of a clause modifying the entire clause. For example, the adverb 天天 (ti¯anti¯an) in the previous sentence can be moved to the beginning of the sentence, reconstructing the sentence as shown below:

              天天他都上班。

             ti¯an-tian t¯a d¯ou sh`ang b¯an

             Every day he goes to work.

However, not all adverbs are movable. Some mono-syllabic adverbs are not allowed to be placed in front of the sentence-initial noun. For example, 都 (d¯ou/ all) in the previous example cannot be moved to the beginning of the sentence. Since the adverb d¯ou (都) interacts with various pragmatic factors in the discourse, it cannot occur in the sentence-initial position.

Reference: Chinese: a linguistic introduction by Chao Fen Sun

answered Jan 2, 2018 by admin (23,690 points)
edited Apr 25, 2018 by admin
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