City University of Hong Kong CLASS CLASS
Making Sense of Grammar
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asked Mar 8 in Questions about Chinese Grammar by Ariel (24,580 points) | 39 views

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In a 在zài sentence, the subject is definite. The word or phrase indicating the location can be either definite or indefinite.

English: A book is on the table.

Chinese: 桌上有一本书。

zhuō shàng yǒu yī běn shū 。

(Incorrect: 一本书在桌上。 (一本书 is indefinite; it cannot be the subject.))

(This sentence is not to indicate ‘location’, but to indicate ‘existence’. Therefore, it is not a 在 sentence in Chinese.)

我的车在那棵树下。

wǒ de chē zài nà kē shù xià 。

My car is under that tree.

我的车在一棵树下。

wǒ de chē zài yī kē shù xià 。

My car is under a tree (a certain tree).

English: A car is under the tree.

Chinese: 那棵树下有一辆车。

nà kē shù xià yǒu yī liàng chē 。

(Incorrect: 一辆车在那棵树下。)

(我的车 and 那棵树 are both definite; 一棵树 and 一辆车 are both indefinite.)

[1] Yip, P. C., Rimmington, D., Xiaoming, Z., & Henson, R. (2009). Basic Chinese: a grammar and workbook. Taylor & Francis.
answered Mar 8 by Ariel (24,580 points)

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1,274 questions
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