City University of Hong Kong CLASS CLASS
Making Sense of Grammar
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a.你可以在农贸市场上买到各种各样的新鲜的蔬菜和水果。

Nǐ kěyǐ zài nóngmào shìchǎng shàng mǎidào gèzhǒnggèyàng de xīnxiān de shūcài he shuǐguǒ.

(You may buy every kind of fresh fruit and vegetable at the farmer’s market.)

b.在农贸市场上你可以买到各种各样的新鲜的蔬菜和水果。

Zài nóngmào shìchǎng shàng nǐ kěyǐ mǎidào gèzhǒng gèyàng de xīnxiān de shūcài he shuǐguǒ.

(At the farmer’s market you can buy every kind of fresh fruit and vegetable.)
asked Apr 29 in Questions about Chinese Grammar by Ariel (34,470 points)
edited Apr 29 by Ariel | 48 views

1 Answer

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The predication of (a) is concerned with the possibility of achieving a goal, more specifically, if a person is situated at the farmer’s market, he can achieve the goal denoted by the predication. Possibility is a state, rather than an action. Therefore, the adverbial of position 在农贸市场上‘zài nóngmào shìchǎng shàng’ (at the farmer’s market) does not denote the specific position where the action of ‘buying’ takes place, rather, it signals the place where the subject referent is present. Hence, the adverbial phrase is more mobile and can occur in the initial position as the sentential adverbial. This explains the contrast between the ungrammaticality and the possibility of (b).

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

answered Apr 29 by Ariel (34,470 points)

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