City University of Hong Kong CLASS CLASS
Making Sense of Grammar
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asked Dec 1, 2021 in Questions about Chinese Grammar by M (4,230 points) | 30 views

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A noun phrase is referential when it is used to refer to an entity. The entity may be physical or conceptual, real or hypothetical, singular or plural, as exemplified below:

张三是我的朋友。‘Zhangsan is my friend.’

门口坐着一个女孩子。‘In the doorway was sitting a girl.’

这条香蕉我吃不下。 ‘This banana I can’ eat’

Noun phrases may be used nonreferentially. Some of the examples are shown below:

张三是工程师。‘Zhangsan is an engineer.’

The NP ‘engineer’ is not used to refer to any particular person.

Similarly, the object component of a verb-object compound is nonreferential, for instance,

我不会唱。‘I don’t know how to sing.’

Reference

Li, C. N., & Thompson, S. A. (1989). Mandarin Chinese: A functional reference grammar (Vol. 3). Univ of California Press.

answered Dec 1, 2021 by M (4,230 points)

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1,521 questions
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