Making Sense of Grammar
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Why is the sentence *他把書在看 ungrammatical?
asked Mar 12 in Questions about Chinese Grammar by admin (19,380 points)
edited Apr 26 by admin

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Bă (把) construction is used to signal a change of state resulting from certain activity. It is also implied that the activity causing the change of state has already ended. 

The sentence *他把書在看t (¯a b˘a sh¯u z`ai k`an) is ungrammatical because such a resulting state is unavailable with a progressive marker z`ai (在) which focuses on the ongoing state of an activity rather than reaching the endpoint of an event.

On the contrary, The end of the sentence 他把書看了 (t¯a b˘a sh¯u k`an le/ He read the book.) is explicitly signaled by the perfect-aspect marker -le (了), thus indicating a new state resulting from the implementation of the event.

Reference: Chinese: a linguistic introduction by Chao Fen Sun

answered Mar 12 by admin (19,380 points)
edited Apr 26 by admin
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