City University of Hong Kong CLASS CLASS
Making Sense of Grammar
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asked Dec 21, 2020 in Questions about Chinese Grammar by Ariel (34,480 points) | 267 views

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In fact, parallel constructions in Chinese are more likely to have a structural cohesion, similar to English sentences like ‘The sooner, the better’,‘First come, first served’, and so on. Under such circumstances no conjunctions or conjunctives are needed. For example,


Huó dào lǎo,xué dào lǎo。

It is never too old to learn. (lit. live till old, learn till old)


Zhǒng guā dé guā,zhǒng dòu dé dòu。

As a man sows, so shall he reap.

(lit. Grow melons and you get melons; grow beans and you get beans.)


Bú rù hǔ xué,yān dé hǔ zǐ。

Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

(lit. If you don’t go into the tiger’s lair, you can’t capture the tiger cub.)


Tiān xià wú nán shì,zhī pà yǒu xīn rén。

Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

(lit. There is nothing difficult under heaven as long as one has the heart to overcome it.)

The above are established sayings, but sentences like them can be readily coined as long as the two adjacent parts have a parallel structure or rhythm and contain a similar number of words.

[1] Yip, P. C., Rimmington, D., Xiaoming, Z., & Henson, R. (2009). Basic Chinese: a grammar and workbook. Taylor & Francis.
answered Dec 21, 2020 by Ariel (34,480 points)

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