Nouns and Nominal Phrases
In a topic-comment sentence there are two types of comments: nominal and verbal. A nominal sentence has a nominal (noun-like) phrase as its comment. Usually this means that a nominal phrase forms the predicate of the sentence. In contrast, a verbal sentence has a verbal (verb-like) phrase as its comment.
A nominal sentence has the form A B 也, which is a statement that A is a type of B. For example,
In nominal sentences in classical Chinese, depending on the period and author, there is often no copula, like 'is' in Enlgish or 是 in modern Chinese. The copula is nearly entirely missing in early classical Chinese texts and more commonly encountered in later texts. In later texts 也 as a final particle also becomes less common.
also from the Analects (see below). The unstated but implied subject in this example is I.
'Those who are born with the possession of knowledge are the highest class of men.
Those who learn, and so, readily, get possession of knowledge, are the next.
Those who are have difficulty and yet overcome that in learning, are another class next to these.
As to those who are dull and stupid and yet do not learn are the lowest of the people.'
The Analects are the sayings of Confucius recorded by his disciples (c. 479 BCE—221 BCE) and is a model of an early classical Chinese writing.
The Master said,
'Meng Zhifan does not boast of his merit.
Being in the rear on an occasion of flight, when they were about to enter the gate, he whipped up his horse,
saying, "It is not that I dare to be last. My horse would not advance."'
from Mencius 孟子 and
from Zhuang Zi 庄子.
from Zhuang Zi 庄子.
both from Mencius. In high classical Chinese 是 was a pronoun rather than a verb as it is in modern Chinese. It aquired this function in the Han Dynasty.
The pronoun 皆 is used when the subject is plural. For example,
from the Heart Sutra.