City University of Hong Kong CLASS CLASS
Making Sense of Grammar
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asked Jun 10 in Questions about Chinese Grammar by Ariel (34,480 points) | 19 views

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Emphasizers, when adding to the force of a constituent, do not require the constituent concerned be gradable. But if the constituent emphasized is indeed gradable, then the emphasizer takes on the force of an intensifying adverbial. Compare the use of the adverbial ‘quèshí de/zhēn de’ (really) in the following:

1a. 我真的喜欢这儿的海景。

Wǒ zhēn de xǐhuan zhèr de hǎijǐng.

(I really like the sea scenery here (I like the sea scenery very much).)

1b. 我的确感谢他的帮助。

Wǒ díquè gǎnxiè tā de bāngzhù.

(I indeed appreciate his help (I greatly appreciate his help).)

1c. 他的话确实打动了他们。

Tāde huà quèshí dǎdòng le tāmen.

(His words moved them indeed (His words moved them deeply).)

With gradable stative verbs like those in (1), the emphasizers may also have a scaling up or heightening effect. But with nongradable verbs, they only have a reinforcing or emphatic effect:

2a. 他真的在那儿。

Tā zhēn de zài nàr.

(He was really there.)

2b. 我们确实看见了一只熊。

Wǒmen quèshí kànjian le yī zhī xióng.

(We definitely saw a bear.)

2c. 她的确坐在河边。

Tā díquè zuò zài hébiān.

(She indeed sat at the riverside.)

In sentences (2), the verbs are ‘zài’ (exist), ‘kànjian’ (see) and ‘zuò’ (sit). Verbs like these do not imply the notion of gradability. Hence the emphasizers only signal emphasis.

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

answered Jun 10 by Ariel (34,480 points)

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