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Making Sense of Grammar
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asked Apr 26 in Questions about Chinese Grammar by Ariel (34,470 points) | 31 views

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In Chinese, copular verbs, the main one of which is ‘shì’ (be), are followed by a nominal. The copular verb functions as a linking verb, it does not express an action, but links the subject with the nominal. The typical semantic role of the nominal is that of attribute ascribed to the subject referent. Two subtypes of attributes can be distinguished: identification and characterization, which identifies or characterizes the subject referent. For example: ‘Běijīng shì Zhōngguó de shǒudū’ (Beijing is the capital of China), in which the nominal ‘Zhōngguó de shǒudū’, identifies the subject referent. The nominal is definite. In the sentence ‘Běijīng shì yī gè měilì de chéngshì’ (Beijing is a beautiful city), the indefinite nominal characterizes the subject referent. The characterization attribute is normally associated with indefinite NP or can be realized by an adjective. The second example sentence in the Table ‘Fēngjǐng hěn měi’ (The scenery is very beautiful) exemplifies that an adjective (or an adjective phrase) may function as a predicate by itself, it does not require the linking verb ‘shi’ (to be) to become a predicate. The predicate adjective refers to a quality, property, or condition.

[1] Loar, J. K. (2011). Chinese syntactic grammar: functional and conceptual principles. New York: Peter Lang.
answered Apr 26 by Ariel (34,470 points)

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