City University of Hong Kong CLASS CLASS
Making Sense of Grammar
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asked Jun 18 in Questions about Chinese Grammar by Ariel (34,470 points) | 20 views

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The monosyllabic adjectives like ‘dà’ (big), ‘xiǎo’ (small), ‘féi’ (wide), ‘shòu’ (narrow), etc., can also be used as adverbials indicating manner. But we should be aware that the notion of manner involves the subject referent’s intention, or put in other words, manner is ‘intentional’ and ‘controllable’, while result is ‘unintentional’ and ‘uncontrollable’.

1a. 孩子长得快,衣服大一点儿做。(衣服做{大一点儿}! )

Háizi cháng de kuài, yīfu dà yīdiǎnr zuò. (Yīfu zuò dà yīdiǎnr !)

(The child grows fast, make his clothes a little larger!)

1b. 她还要发胖,衣服{肥点儿}做(衣服做{肥一点儿})。

Tā hái yào fāpàng, yīfu féi diǎnr zuò(yīfu zuò féi yīdiǎnr !)

(She will still gain more weight, make her clothes a little wider!)

1c. 大点儿/大大地/写!(写 {大一点儿}!)

Dà diǎnr/dàdàdi/xiě !(xiě dà yīdiǎnr !)

(Write [the characters] a little larger!)

The above sentences are acceptable. When the adjectives are used as adverbials, the speaker focuses on an intentional process. For instance, ‘yīfu dà yīdiǎnr zuò’ (make the clothes a little large) means that the subject referent deliberately cut the clothes larger than the right size. While the complement ‘dà’ in the clause ‘Yīfu zuò dà le’ (The piece of clothes was made too large) refers to the result of clothes-making, the result is ‘unintentional’ and ‘uncontrollable’. Most often their corresponding De complement form is preferred, because the speaker wants to emphasize the result.

[1] Loar, J. K. (2011). Chinese syntactic grammar: functional and conceptual principles. New York: Peter Lang.
answered Jun 18 by Ariel (34,470 points)

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