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An Introduction to Chinese Grammar 汉语语法入门

单句 Simple Sentences

Sentences are formed from words and phrases using grammatical rules to express a complete idea. In general, simple sentences are composed of a subject and a predicate. Sentences can also be classified as either subject-predicate sentences or non subject-predicate sentences. Subject-predicate sentences use a subject section and a predicate section. For example,

  1. 学习物理学。 (He studies physics.) “主语部分,“学习物理学谓语部分。 ( is the subject section and 学习物理学 is the predicate section.)
  2. 图书馆 安静。 (The library is very quiet.) “图书馆主语部分,“安静谓语部分。 (图书馆 is the predicate section and 安静 is the predicate section.)

Subject-predicate sentences can be divided into those with a verbal predicate, those adjectival predicate, those with a nominal predicate, and those with a subject-predicate phrase as the predicate.

Non subject-predicate sentences can be classified as subjectless sentences, one word sentences, and elliptical sentences. For example,

  1. 。 (It's raining.)
  2. ! (Watch out!)

Simple sentences can also be classified by their use. Simple sentences can be classified as declarative sentences, interrogative sentences, imperative sentences, or exclamatory sentences.

动词谓语句 Sentences with a Verbal Predicate

Sentences with a verbal predicate use a verb as the predicate to state what the subject does. In general, sentences with a verbal predicate have three forms:

  1. Subject + predicate (verb)
    1. 咱们商量。 Let's talk it over. (咱们 is the subject section and 商量 is the predicate section, which is a verb.)
    2. 。 I am going. (The subject section is and the predicate section is , which uses the verb .)
  2. Subject + predicate (transitive verb) + object
    1. 。 I am buying vegetables. ( is the subject, is the predicate and is a transitive verb, and is the object.)
    2. 学习英文。 He studies English. ( is the subject, 学习 is the predicate and also a transitive verb, and 英文 is the object.)
  3. Subject + predicate (transitive verb) + indirect object + direct object
    1. 老师我们英语。 The teacher is teaching us English. (老师 is the subject, is the predicate and also a transitive verb, 我们 is an indirect object, and 英语 is a direct object.)
    2. 。 I will give you the money. ( is the subject, is the predicate and also a transitive verb, is an indirect object, and is a direct object.)

Use the negating adverb before the predicate adverb to express "never in the future", "not often", "not willing", etc. If the predicate verb is then use the negating adverb . If the action has not yet occured or not yet been completed use the negative adverb or 没有. For example,

  1. 孩子吃饭。 The child is not eating. (The adverb expresses that the child is not willing to eat.)
  2. 没有。 I have not got a car. (The predicate verb is .)
  3. 。 I haven't gone yet. (The action has not yet taken place.)

Sentences with an Adjectival Predicate

Sentences with an adjectival predicate use an adjective to describe what the subject is like. Its basic forms are:

  1. [Affirmative form] Subject + predicate (adjective)
    1. 。 There are a lot of people. ( is the subject, is the predicate and is an adjective.)
    2. 天气。 The weather is hot. (天气 is the subject, is the predicate and is an adjective.)
  2. [Negative form] Subject + adverbial adjunct (adverb ) + predicate (adjective)
    1. 汽车。 The car is not new. (汽车 is the subject, is the predicate and is an adjective.)
    2. 聪明。 He is not clever. ( is the subject, 聪明 is the predicate and is an adjective.)

The adverb is often used before the predicate adverb, acting as an adverbial adjunct but does not generally express degree. If the adverb is not used then a comparison is usually meant. The adverbs 比较十分相当特别非常 are often used to express degree. For example,

  1. 。 He is tall. (The adverb does not express degree.)
  2. 。 He is taller. (Without a comparison is meant.)
  3. 特别。 He is extremely tall. (The adverb 特别 expresses degree.)

Sentences with a Nominal Predicate

Sentences with nominal predicates use a noun or a nominal endocentric phrase to express a sum of money, a festival, a profession, a solar term, a date, or a person's age. Sentences with nominal predicates are usually short and simple. For example,

  1. 明天初一。 Tomorrow is the first day of the lunar month. (The noun 初一 acts as the predicate.)
  2. 爷爷九十。 Grandfather is over ninety years old. (The numeral-measure word phrase 九十 acts as the predicate.)
  3. 这些橙子多少? How much are these oranges? (The nominal endocentric phrase 多少 acts as the predicate.)
  4. 现在。 It's eight o'clock. (The numeral-measure word phrase acts as the predicate.)

Sentences with a Subject-Predicate Phrase as the Predicate

These sentences use a subject-predicate phrase as the predicate. For example,

  1. 身体健康。 He is healthy. (The pronoun is the subject and the subject-predicate phrase 身体健康 is the subject.)
  2. 这个学校水平。 The standards at this school are very high. (这个学校 is the subject and the subject-predicate phrase 水平 is the subject.)

Subjectless Sentences

Subjectless sentences do not have a subject section. In this type of sentence there is either no clear subject or the subject does not need to be articulated. For example,

  1. 刮风。 It's windy. (No need to articulate as the subject.)
  2. 下课。 School's out. (No subject is needed.)
  3. 买单。 Check, please. (No need to use as the subject.)

One Word Sentences

One word sentences include only a single word or a single endocentric phrase. They are used to express time or place, praise, a discovery, a warning, to address someone, agreement, opposition, or a question. For example,

  1. 危险!Danger! (a warning)
  2. 怎么? How is that? (a question)
  3. 好球! Good shot! (admiration)
  4. 。 That's fine. (agreement)

Elliptical Sentences

In an elliptical sentence only a part of the whole sentence is spoken because the meaning can be understood from the context. Elliptical sentences are often used in conversation. For example,

  1. ?)(。(The subject is ommitted.)
  2. 什么?)(饺子。 (What would you like to eat?) (I would like to eat) Dumplings. (The subject and predicate are omitted.)
  3. ?))。 (Who is going?) Me. (I am going) (The predicate is omitted.)

Glossary and Other Vocabulary