City University of Hong Kong CLASS CLASS
Making Sense of Grammar
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asked Apr 18 in Questions about Chinese Grammar by Ariel (34,480 points) | 34 views

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An imperative sentence in English rarely starts with the subject ‘you’ unless the speaker wants to adopt an emphatic tone. In Chinese, the omission of the subject 你 or 你们 is optional. The presence or absence of 你 or 你们 has no effect on the tone adopted by the speaker.

你看!车来了。快跑。

Nǐ kàn !chē lái le 。kuài pǎo 。

Look! The bus is coming. Hurry and run.

听!好像有人在敲门。你去看看是谁。

Tīng !hǎo xiàng yǒu rén zài qiāo mén 。nǐ qù kàn kàn shì shuí 。

Listen! It sounds like someone is knocking on the door. Go take a look to see who it is.

When one gives different commands to more than one person, 你 is used in each command.

老王,你扫地;小张,你擦窗户;小李,你抹桌子。

Lǎo wáng ,nǐ sǎo dì ;xiǎo zhāng ,nǐ cā chuāng hù ;xiǎo lǐ ,nǐ mò zhuō zǐ 。

Lao Wang, you sweep the floor; Xiao Zhang, you clean the windows; Xiao Li, you wipe the tables.

[1] Yip, P. C., Rimmington, D., Xiaoming, Z., & Henson, R. (2009). Basic Chinese: a grammar and workbook. Taylor & Francis.
answered Apr 18 by Ariel (34,480 points)

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1,439 questions
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12,843 users