Chinese Calligraphy



Lesson 21

把 sentences

Sentences containing 把 indicate that the subject of the sentence takes the object and consequently does something to the object. For this to happen the word order of 把 sentences changes from the standard Subject-Verb-Object order to Subject-Object-Verb.

把 sentences

The example shows that the purpose of 把 is to alter the object by using the subsequent verb. In the standard phrase of our example I only tell the listener that I do my homework. In the second example I tell the listener that I finished off my homework. For this purpose I need the word 把 before the object. The word 把 contains the "hand" radical. So the word 把 means to "manipulate", "handle" or even better "take" something and do something with it. When you translate the 把 example literally, you could say "I took my homework and finished it off." This principle goes for all 把 sentences.

When to use 把 sentences?

If you want to tell the listener that the object of your sentence changes in some way and you want to emphasise this change to the object by using a verb, then you should use a 把 construction.

Imagine that you want to tell your friend that you parked his car before his house. In the sentence you want to formulate the car would be the object. Something happened to the car, namely that you parked the car in front of your friend's house. This information is important for your friend, since he needs to know where he can find his car. In this case all conditions for using the 把 construction are met and our example might be as follows:

把 sentences

The following example compares the difference in meaning between a standard phrase and the 把 construction.

把 sentences

The example shows that in the standard phrase we only tell the listener that somebody drove to my home. In the example using a 把 construction we are telling the listener that somebody took his new car and drove to my home.

Here are some more examples of 把 sentences.

把 sentences

Asking questions using 把

For asking questions using 把, the same rules apply as for standard phrases, you either use a question word, negate the verb or use the question particle 嗎 (ma).

把 sentences

Negating 把 sentences

For negating 把 sentences, you add for present or future tense sentences or 没(有) for sentences that took place in the past.

把 sentences

When 把 is not used

In situations where there is no object at all or where the object is not directly affected, you can't use 把. Also note that for verbs expressing feelings, emotions, being or possession such as 是 (to be), 有 (to have), 想 (to think), 喜歡 (to like), 愛 (to love), 看 (to see) you can't use 把 either.

The aspect particle 著

In Lesson 13 we learned that we use the progressive marker 在 to indicate that the action is currently in progress. If you want to express the continuity of an action or state, then you use the aspact particle 著

The following example shows you the difference between the progressive marker 在 and the aspect particle 著.

Aspect particle 著

The first sentence of the example above describes the action of putting on gloves and the second sentence describes the durative aspect of wearing gloves.

Here are some more examples when to use the aspect particle 著.

Aspect particle 著

Imperative sentences

The aspect particle 著 can also be used to formulate requests or orders or to ask somebody to maintain or change his current state.

Aspect particle 著

Adverb constructions

In adverb constructions the verb followed by 著 acts as an adverb and describes the state whereas the subsequent verb describes the action.

Aspect particle 著

Reduplication

In Chinese it is possible to repeat adjectives, verbs, nouns and even measure words. The purpose of reduplication is to make their meaning softer or stronger. The most common reduplication we find in 謝謝 (xièxie).

Reduplication of adjectives

Adjectives in Chinese are either repeated to make them sound less direct or to intensify their meaning.

Repeating monosyllabic adjectives

In Lesson 10 we learned that when a noun is preceded by a monosyllabic adjective, then we don't need to put the particle 的 between the adjective and noun. If we repeat monosyllabic adjectives then we end up with a disyllabic adjective. Disyllabic adjectives require the particle 的 between the adjective and noun. So we must not forget to add 的 when repeating monosyllabic adjectives.

Reduplication

For repeated adjectives without a noun we also need to place 的 at the end.

Reduplication

If the reduplicated form acts as an adverb, i.e. it is modifying a verb, then we have to add the particle 地 instead of 的.

Reduplication

Repeating disyllabic adjectives

If we repeat adjectives with more than one character, then we repeat each character individually.

Reduplication

If the reduplicated form acts as an adverb, then we have to add 地 instead of 的.

Reduplication

The following is an example of a disyllabic adjective used as a modifier of a noun.

Reduplication

The following is an example of a disyllabic adjective used as a predicate complement.

Reduplication

Reduplication of verbs

When repeating verbs, we want to express that an action takes a little bit of time or we want to soften its brusqueness. It can also be used to formulate an attempt of doing something. The reduplication of verbs mainly takes place in informal situations.

Reduplication of monosyllabic verbs

When repeating monosyllabic verbs, the second syllable gets the neutral tone.

Reduplication

When repeating monosyllabic verbs, we can optionally insert 一 (yī). When the action occurred in the past we also insert the particle 了 (le).

Reduplication

Reduplication of disyllabic verbs

When repeating disyllabic verbs, we repeat each verb individually.

Reduplication

Reduplication of nouns

Nouns can also be repeated. But note than the reduplication of nouns is more common in southern China and Taiwan than in northern China. Repeated nouns change their meaning to "every" or "each".

Reduplication

Reduplication of measure words

Repeated measure words also get the meaning of "every" or "each".

Reduplication

Expressing concession

To express concession or contrast in the sense of "but" or "however", use 可是 (kěshì), 但是 (dànshi) or 不過 (bùguò). 可是 (kěshì) and 但是 (dànshi) can be used interchangeably since they both mean "but".

Expressing concession

不過 (bùguò) has a slightly stronger sense of contrast or concession than 可是 (kěshì) or 但是 (dànshi).

Expressing concession