City University of Hong Kong CLASS CLASS
Making Sense of Grammar
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asked Apr 26, 2021 in Questions about Chinese Grammar by Ariel (34,480 points) | 165 views

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Clause types are determined by the verb class to which the verb element belongs. Different verb classes take a different number of obligatory arguments to complete the meaning of the verb. For instance, the verb 飞‘fēi’ (fly), as an intransitive verb, takes only one argument, which is the Agent functioning as the subject of the sentence, as in 鸟飞。‘Niǎo fēi’ (Birds fly); the verb 给‘gěi’ (give), is a transitive verb taking three arguments, the subject, the direct object and the indirect object, as in 请给我笔。‘Qǐng gěi wǒ bǐ’ (Please give me the pen). We should be aware that a given verb may have various senses, so it may belong to a number of different classes, and thus enter into different clause types. The verb 开‘kāi’ (boil) is such a verb. It can be intransitive and take only one argument, as in 水开了,快去冲茶。‘Shuǐ kāi le, kuài qù chōngchá’ (The water's boiling. Hurry and make tea), and it can also be a transitive verb, as in 请开门。‘Qǐng kāi mén’ (Please open the door).

[1] Loar, J. K. (2011). Chinese syntactic grammar: functional and conceptual principles. New York: Peter Lang.
answered Apr 26, 2021 by Ariel (34,480 points)

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