City University of Hong Kong CLASS CLASS
Making Sense of Grammar
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asked Jun 4 in Questions about Chinese Grammar by Ariel (34,480 points) | 37 views

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The key items in realizing expressions of forward span are the prepositions 到‘dào’ (till), and 直到‘zhídào’ (till, until), which introduce either prepositional phrases or clauses. Prepositional phrases or clauses with 到‘dào’ and 直到‘zhídào’ interact with the meanings of verbs. A positive clause requires verb of durative meaning and the span extends from the speaker’s ‘now’ up to the reference of time denoted by‘到dào’ or 直到‘zhídào’ expression. Verbs denoting durative actions like 工作‘gōngzuò’ (work), 学习‘xuéxí’ (study) or stative verbs like 等‘děng’ (wait), 住‘zhù’ (live), 谁‘shuì’ (sleep), etc., often occur with 到‘dào’ and 直到‘zhídào’. For instance:

1a. 昨晚他一直工作{到半夜}。

Zuówǎn tā yīzhí gōngzuò {dào bànyè}.

(Last night he worked until midnight.)

1b. 这样做要做{到何年何月}才能完工?

Zhèyàng zuò yào zuò { dào hé nián hé yuè} cái néng wángōng?

(When can we finish it if we do it this way?)

1c. 他们要在纽约住{到儿子拿到学位},然后再回国。

Tāmen yào zài Niǔ Yuē zhù {dào érzi ná dào xuéwèi}, ránhòu zài huíguó.

(They will stay in New York until their son gets his degree, then they will go back to their country.)

The time concept of ‘now’ involved in the forward span refers to the point in time to which the speaker is oriented, but the time of orientation is not fixed. With past time, as in (1a), ‘now’ refers to the time that the speaker is concerned about and it may coincide with the time when the subject referent begins to work, e.g., five o’clock in a certain afternoon, and the span extends from this ‘now’ up to the future reference time expressed by 半夜‘bànyè’ (midnight). In (1b), ‘now’ refers to the moment of speaking of the speaker, and the forward span will extend up to the future expressed by the noun phrase after到 ‘dào’—何年何月‘hé nián hé yuè’ (which month and which year).

[1] Loar, J. K. (2011). Chinese syntactic grammar: functional and conceptual principles. New York: Peter Lang.
answered Jun 4 by Ariel (34,480 points)

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1,444 questions
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