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Making Sense of Grammar
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asked Apr 27, 2021 in Questions about Chinese Grammar by Ariel (34,480 points) | 507 views

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Apart from the participants referred to by the subject and object arguments, the clause element of complement also plays semantic roles in the situation named by the verb. Complements always occur after the verb to express various kinds of resultant meaning. They include: resultative verb complement, directional verb complement, action/time-measure complement, and resultative complement introduced by the structural particle De. They provide essential information to complete the meaning of the verb in terms of result, goal or destination, duration or extension of the event (active or stative), and the number of times that the event was conducted, etc. Result always succeeds the completion of an action or event. Hence, the clause element of complement always occurs after the verb. Here are some examples of complements:


Xiǎo lín màozhe yǔ zǒu le bàn lǐ lù/bàn ge xiǎoshi.

(Braving the rain, Xiao Lin walked half li/half an hour.)

1b. 他甩出手榴弹,炸{死了几个鬼子}。

Tā shuǎi chū shǒuliúdàn, zhàsǐ le jǐ gè guǐzi.

(He threw out a grenade, and killed a few Japanese soldiers with the explosion.)

1c. 老胡心里乐{开了花}。

Lǎo hú xīnli lè kāile huā.

(Old Hu was so happy that his heart was blooming.)

1d. 他把熟睡的孩子从树下抱{起来}。

Tā bǎ shúshuì zhe de háizi cóng shù xia bào qǐlai.

(He took up the child sleeping under the tree with both arms.)

1e. 那个男孩从树上跳{到水里}。

Nàge nánhái cóng shù shang tiào dào shuǐli.

(That boy jumped into the water from the tree.)


Tā chūguó shísì nián cái huí yī tàng guó.

(He returned to his home country only once during the fourteen years that he was abroad.)

1g. 张三喝得{醉醺醺的}。

Zhāng Sān hē de zuìxūnxūn de.

(Zhang San got blindly drunk.)

The complements in the above sentences are: the action/time-measure complements in (1a), which denote the distance covered by the action and the duration of the action; the resultative verb complement (1b); resultative complement (1c) expressed by the VP 开了花‘kāile huā’ (bloom); directional verb complement (1d), which expresses the direction of the action and also signals the result of the action, as the child is now in the subject referent’s arms; the resultative complement (1e) expressed by the prepositional phrase 到水里‘dào shuǐli’ (in the water), which signals the destination of the action; the action-measure complement (1f); and the De resultative complement (1g).

[1] Loar, J. K. (2011). Chinese syntactic grammar: functional and conceptual principles. New York: Peter Lang.
answered Apr 27, 2021 by Ariel (34,480 points)

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