City University of Hong Kong CLASS CLASS
Making Sense of Grammar
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asked Feb 2, 2021 in Questions about Chinese Grammar by Ariel (34,480 points) | 131 views

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The Chinese language is viewed by many as topic prominent. The topic must be a noun or noun phrase that is definite and has been mentioned in the conversation or is pre-existent in the context.

(a) When the comment is a complete sentence

Usually, the comment is a complete sentence used to elaborate on the topic.

这家饭馆,        服务很好

Zhè jiā fàn guǎn,  fú wù hěn hǎo 。

↓                  ↓

Topic              Comment (服务很好 is a complete sentence.)

Service at this restaurant is good.

(b) When the comment is another topic–comment structure

Sometimes, a comment itself can be a topic–comment structure. There is frequently a comma between the topic and the comment.

(Situation: Wang knew that Zhang had taken two tests yesterday, and Wang wanted to find out how Zhang had done on the tests.)

王:   昨天的考试,      你考得怎么样?

Wáng:Zuó tiān de kǎo shì,nǐ kǎo dé zěn me yàng?

Topic                     Comment (a complete sentence)

Wang: How did you do on yesterday’s tests?

张:    (那两个考试,) 中文的,我考得不错英文的,我考得不好

Zhāng: (nà liǎng gè kǎo shì, ) zhōng wén de ,wǒ kǎo dé bú cuò, yīng wén de,wǒ kǎo dé bú hǎo。

Topic         Comment #1          Comment #2


Topic    Comment    Topic    Comment

Zhang: Of the two tests, I did fi ne on the Chinese one, and I did poorly on the English one.

[1] Yip, P. C., Rimmington, D., Xiaoming, Z., & Henson, R. (2009). Basic Chinese: a grammar and workbook. Taylor & Francis.

[2] Teng, W. H. (2016). Yufa! A practical guide to Mandarin Chinese grammar. Taylor & Francis.

answered Feb 2, 2021 by Ariel (34,480 points)

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