City University of Hong Kong CLASS CLASS
Making Sense of Grammar
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asked Nov 15, 2021 in Questions about Chinese Grammar by M (4,830 points) | 58 views

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To indicate an approximate number, the NUM position can be filled with a cardinal number and a hedge word, as exemplified below,

那二十多杯茶

na4 er4shi2 duo1 bei1 cha 2

that twenty more CL tea

‘those over twenty (between 21 and 29) cups of tea’

约三百五十名士兵

yue1 san1bai3 wu3shi2 ming2 shi4bing1

about three_hundred fifty CL soldier

‘about three hundred and fifty soldiers’

Another way is to fill with two consecutive basic digits, for instance,

七八张桌子

qi1ba1 zhang1 zhuo1zi0

seven_or_eight CL desk

‘a few (roughly seven or eight) tables’

A third way is to use the quantifier 数 shu4 ‘several’ or 几 ji3 ‘several’, as shown below,

有数十名矿工正在井下作业。

you3 shu4shi2 ming2 kuang4gong1 zheng4zai4 jing3 xia4 zuo4ye4

YOU several_ten CL miner ZAI well under work

‘Several dozen miners were working in the tunnels.’

广场上聚集了几百只鸽子。

guang3chang3 shang4 ju4ji2 le0 ji3bai3 zhi1 ge1zi0

square on gather LE several_hundred CL pigeon

‘Several hundred pigeons gathered at the square.’

Reference:

Shi, Dingxu. 2016. Nouns and nominal phrases. In A Reference Grammar of Chinese, eds. by Chu-Ren Huang and Dingxu Shi. Cambridge University Press.

answered Nov 15, 2021 by M (4,830 points)

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1,785 questions
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53,023 users