City University of Hong Kong CLASS CLASS
Making Sense of Grammar
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asked Nov 26, 2021 in Questions about Chinese Grammar by M (4,830 points) | 540 views

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Mandarin Chinese uses the morpheme ZAI in front of a verb to mark the progressive aspect, expressing an unbounded, ongoing event from a close proximity, as illustrated here:

他们在吃饭

tamen zai chi fan

they ZAI eat meal

‘They are eating a meal.’

The progressive marker zai precedes the verb and encodes a dynamic ongoing situation

as in the middle of happening, as shown below:

他们在打球

tamen zai da qiu (Activity)

they ZAI play ball

‘They are playing ball.’

张三在写一封信

Zhangsan zai xie yifeng xin (Accomplishment)

Zhangsan ZAI write one-CL letter

‘Zhangsan is writing a letter.’

answered Nov 26, 2021 by M (4,830 points)

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1,616 questions
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207 comments
15,645 users