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Making Sense of Grammar
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asked Apr 27 in Questions about Chinese Grammar by Ariel (28,250 points) | 19 views

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Adverbials of position consist of ‘zài + NPloc’ (NP of location). The phrase ‘zài +NPloc’ can be used with dynamic verbs, indicating the place or location where an active event takes place. Here are some examples:

1a. 生日晚会在隔壁的房间里举行。

Shēngri wǎnhuì zài gébì de fángjiānlǐ jǔxíng.

(The birthday party is being held in the next room.)

1b. 我姐姐在城里头的银行工作。

Wǒ jiějie zài chéng lǐtou de yínháng gōngzuò.

(My older sister works at a downtown bank.)

1b’ *在城里头的银行我姐姐工作。

* Zài chéng lǐtou de yínháng wǒ jiějie gōngzuò.

(At a downtown bank my older sister works.)

1b” *我姐姐工作在城里头的银行

*Wǒ jiějie gōngzuò zài chéng lǐtou de yínháng.

(My older sister works at a downtown bank.)

1c.孩子们在花园里跑来跑去。

Háizimen zài huāyuán lǐ pǎoláipǎoqù.

(The children were running about in the garden.)

1c’ ?在花园里孩子们跑来跑去。

?Zài huāyuán lǐ háizimen pǎoláipǎoqù.

1c” *孩子们跑来跑去在花园里

*Háizimen pǎoláipǎoqù zài huāyuán lǐ.

1d. 小明在黑板上画画。

Xiǎo Míng zài hēibǎn shàng huà huà.

(Xiao Ming was drawing pictures on the blackboard.)

In the above sentences, the adverbials of position, which indicate the locations where the actions named by the verbs are carried out, are all ordered before the verbs; placing them in other positions will result in ungrammaticality, as shown by (1b’, b”) and (1c”). (1 c’) are questionable, because 在花园里‘zài huāyuán lǐ’ (in the garden) denotes the place where the action 跑来跑去‘pǎoláipǎoqù’ (run about) is performed, so it is not suitable to be a sentential adverbial qualifying the whole sentence. It can occur in the initial positon for contrast, but there is no other item to be contrasted with. Please note in (1d), the adverbial of place 在黑板上‘zài hēibǎn shàng’ (on the blackboard) denotes the location where the action of drawing takes place, rather than the physical position of the subject referent. And the pictures that are drawn are understood to exist on the blackboard, as the verb 画‘huà’ (draw) takes a resultant object.

[1] Loar, J. K. (2011). Chinese syntactic grammar: functional and conceptual principles. New York: Peter Lang.

answered Apr 27 by Ariel (28,250 points)

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