3rd Edition

Chinese An Essential Grammar

By Yip Po-Ching, Don Rimmington Copyright 2021
    338 Pages
    by Routledge

    338 Pages
    by Routledge

    This new and extended edition of Chinese: An Essential Grammar is an up-to-date and concise reference guide to modern Chinese (Mandarin) grammar.

    Refreshingly jargon-free, it presents an accessible description of the language, focusing on the real patterns of use today. This Grammar aims to serve as a reference source for the learner and user of Chinese, irrespective of level, setting out the complexities of the language in short, readable sections.

    It is ideal either for independent study or for students in schools, colleges, universities and adult classes of all types.

    Features include:

    • Three new chapters on speech habits, writing conventions and new lexicalisation processes
    • Chinese characters, as well as the pinyin romanisation, alongside all examples
    • Literal and colloquial translations into English to illustrate language points
    • Detailed contents list and index for easy access to information
    • A glossary of grammatical terms.




    The Chinese language

    Mandarin pronunciation

    The Chinese vocabulary

    Part I Nouns


    1 Nouns

    1.1 Noun features

    1.2 Proper nouns

    1.3 Common nouns

    1.3.1 The plural suffix -men

    1.3.2 Nouns and definite or indefinite reference

    1.4 Nouns and conjunctions

    1.5 Common nouns: countability

    2 Numerals and nouns

    2.1 Cardinal numbers

    2.1.1 Two forms of the number two

    2.2 Ordinal numbers

    2.3 ‘Half’

    2.4 Fractions, percentages, decimals, multiples and ‘every’

    2.5 Approximation

    3 Measures for nouns

    3.1 Measures and

    3.2 Other measure words

    3.3 Abstract nouns

    3.4 Material nouns

    3.5 Collective nouns

    3.6 Relationship between measures and nouns

    4 Pronouns

    4.1 Personal pronouns

    4.2 Possessive pronouns

    4.3 Demonstrative pronouns

    4.4 Interrogative pronouns

    4.5 Other pronouns

    4.6 Pronouns and conjunctions

    5 Adjectives and attributives

    5.1 Attributives

    5.2 Adjectives as attributives

    5.2.1 Monosyllabic adjectives

    5.2.2 Polysyllabic adjectives and de

    5.2.3 Disyllabic adjectives and de

    5.3 Nominal attributives

    5.3.1 Nominal attributives and de

    5.4 Prepositional and postpositional phrases as attributives

    5.5 Verbal phrases or clauses as attributives

    5.6 The order of sequential attributives

    5.7 Demonstrative and numeral phrases with other attributives

    5.8 Possessive pronoun and other attributives

    5.9 Ér between adjectives

    5.10 Omission of the noun following an attributive

    5.11 Attributives in word-formation

    Part II Verbs


    6 Adjectival and nominal predicates; the verb shì

    6.1 Adjectival predicates

    6.2 Adjectival predicates and the verb ‘to be’

    6.2.1 Adjectival predicates and degree adverbs

    6.2.2 Adjectival predicates in the negative

    6.2.3 Adjectival predicates followed by verbs

    6.3 Non-gradable adjectives as attributives

    6.3.1 Attributives of shape, colour or material

    6.4 Nominal and pronominal predicates

    6.4.1 Verbs resembling shì

    6.4.2 Nominal predicates without a copula

    6.5 The copula shì in its negative form

    7 The verb yǒu; comparisons

    7.1 The functions of yǒu

    7.1.1 Yǒu indicating possession

    7.1.2 Měi as negative of yǒu

    7.1.3 Yǒu indicating change or development

    7.1.4 Yǒu forming idiomatic expressions

    7.1.5 Yǒu introducing adjectival predicates

    7.2 Comparison

    7.2.1 Emphatic or specific comparison

    7.2.2 Negative comparison

    7.2.3 Comparison: equivalence or similarity

    7.3 Comparatives and superlatives

    8 Verbs and aspect markers

    8.1 Action, state and dative verbs

    8.2 Action verbs

    8.3 Aspect markers

    8.3.1 Le

    8.3.2 Guo

    8.3.3 Zài

    8.3.4 Zhe

    8.4 State verb

    8.5 Dative verbs

    8.5.1 Dative verbs relating to spoken activity

    8.5.2 Dative verbs and aspect markers

    8.6 Causative verbs

    8.7 Imperatives

    8.7.1 Polite requests

    8.7.2 Imperatives and aspect markers

    9 Motion verbs and direction indicators

    9.1 Motion verbs and simple direction indicators

    9.2 Motion verbs and compound direction indicators

    9.3 Motion verbs with metaphorical meaning

    9.4 Direction indicators with specific meanings

    10 Verbs and time

    10.1 Time expressions

    10.2 Point of time expressions

    10.2.1 Detailed time expressions

    10.3 Point-of-time expressions incorporating verbal phrases

    10.4 Imprecise points of time

    10.5 Indefinite points of time

    10.6 Frequency expressions with měi

    10.7 Time expressions in existence sentences

    10.7.1 Time expressions in emergence or disappearance sentences

    11 Verbs and location

    11.1 Location expressions

    11.2 Zài and postpositional phrases

    11.2.1 Disyllabic postpositions

    11.2.2 Disyllabic postpositions as location pronouns

    11.3 Simple location sentences

    11.4 Location phrases modifying main verbs

    11.5 Location phrases in existence sentences

    11.5.1 Shì in existence sentences

    11.5.2 Zhe in existence sentences

    11.6 Le in emergence or disappearance sentences

    11.7 Order of sequence of time and location phrases

    12 Verbs: duration and frequency

    12.1 Duration expressions

    12.1.1 Duration expressions and noun objects

    12.1.2 Repetition of the verb in a noun-object-duration structure

    12.1.3 Duration expressions and pronoun objects

    12.1.4 Duration expressions in dative construction

    12.1.5 Duration expressions and definite reference

    12.2 Brief duration

    12.2.1 Brief duration and instrumental objects

    12.3 Frequency expressions

    13 Verbs and complements

    13.1 Complements

    13.2 Complements of result

    13.3 Potential complements

    13.3.1 Potential complements using direction indicators

    13.3.2 Metaphorical meanings of potential complements

    13.4 Complements of manner and of consequential state

    13.4.1 Modification of complement of manner

    13.4.2 Complement of consequential state

    13.4.3 Complements of manner or consequential state with a ‘verb + object’ verb

    13.4.4 Adjectival complements of manner in comparisons

    13.4.5 Complement-of-manner comparison with a ‘verb + object’ verb

    13.5 Complement of location or destination

    13.6 Degree complements

    14 Verbs and adverbials

    14.1 Adverbials of manner

    14.1.1 Monosyllabic adjectives as adverbials of manner

    14.1.2 Adverbials of manner with marked verbs

    14.1.3 Adverbials of manner with unmarked verbs

    14.1.4 Monosyllabic adverbial modifiers without de

    14.1.5 Particular types of adverbials of manner

    14.2 Attitudinal adverbial expressions

    14.3 Referential adverbs

    14.4 Referential adverbs with negatives

    14.5 Order of sequence of referential adverbs

    14.6 Order of adverbials in sequence

    15 Modal and similar verbs

    15.1 Modal, attitudinal and intentional verbs

    15.2 Modal verbs

    15.2.1 Modal verbs and adverbs of degree

    15.2.2 Modal verbs and comparison

    15.3 Attitudinal verbs

    15.3.1 Wàngle and jìde

    15.3.2 Gāoxìng

    15.4 Intentional verbs

    15.4.1 Negation of intentional verbs

    Part III Sentences


    16 Statements and the sentence particle le

    16.1 Le as a sentence particle

    16.2 Functions of sentence le

    16.2.1 Summing-up function of le

    16.2.2 Le as both sentence particle and aspect marker

    16.3 Cases where sentence le is not used

    16.4 Ultimate versatility of sentence le

    17 Questions

    17.1 Question-word questions

    17.1.1 Zěnmeyàng

    17.1.2 Duō in questions

    17.1.3 Ne in questions

    17.2 General questions with ma

    17.3 Surmise questions with ba

    17.4 Affirmative-negative questions

    17.5 Alternative questions with háishì

    17.6 Tags indicating suggestion

    17.7 Tags seeking confirmation

    17.8 Rhetorical questions

    18 Subject and predicate; topic and comment

    18.1 Dual patterning of sentence structures

    18.2 Subject-predicate sentences

    18.3 Topic-comment sentences

    18.3.1 Further ways to form topic-comment sentences

    18.4 Topic | subject-predicate sentences

    18.4.1 Notional passive sentences

    18.5 Subject | topic-comment sentences

    19 Prepositions and coverbs

    19.1 Coverbs

    19.1.1 Coverbs of place and time

    19.1.2 Coverbs of methods and means

    19.1.3 Coverbs of human exchange and service

    19.1.4 Coverbs of reference

    19.1.5 Coverbs and comparison

    19.2 Disyllabic prepositions

    20 and bèi constructions

    20.1 The construction

    20.1.1 The construction and complements

    20.1.2 Le and zhe as complements in sentences

    20.1.3 and resultative complements

    20.1.4 Nòng and gǎo in sentences

    20.1.5 Negative sentences

    20.1.6 and modal verbs

    20.1.7 and indefinite reference

    20.2 The bèi construction

    20.2.1 Ràng and jiào

    20.2.2 The bèi construction with an agent

    20.2.3 Negative bèi sentences

    20.3 The bèi construction versus the notional passives

    21 Serial constructions

    21.1 General features of serial constructions

    21.2 Semantic varieties in serial constructions

    21.3 Adjectives or state verbs in serial constructions

    21.4 Dative constructions

    21.5 Causative constructions

    21.5.1 Qǐng in a causative construction

    21.5.2 Extended causative constructions

    21.6 Extended serial constructions

    22 Emphasis and the intensifier shì

    22.1 Shì as an intensifier

    22.2 The shì … de construction

    22.2.1 Subject and object emphasis in shì … de sentences

    22.2.2 Shì … de construction and

    22.3 Shì without de for progression and projection

    22.3.1 Contexts for shì (without de) sentences

    22.3.2 Shì and comparison

    22.3.3 Shì and negation

    22.4 Shì and topic-comment sentences

    22.4.1 Shì implying reservation

    22.4.2 ‘Verb/adjective + shì + verb/adjective’ implying reservation

    22.5 Repetition and emphasis

    23 Abbreviation and omission

    23.1 Three types of abbreviation

    23.2 Conventional abbreviations as subjectless sentences

    23.3 Contextual abbreviation

    23.4 Cotextual omissions

    23.4.1 Cotextual omissions and headwords

    23.4.2 Cotextual omissions in answers

    23.4.3 Contextual/cotextual omissions in extended passages

    24 Composite sentences: conjunctions and conjunctives

    24.1 Types of composite sentence

    24.2 Conjunctions and conjunctives

    24.2.1 Meanings and functions of composite sentences

    24.2.2 Paired conjunctives

    24.3 Composite sentences as parallel structures

    24.4 Verbs taking object clauses

    25 Exclamations and interjections; appositions; and apostrophes

    25.1 Exclamations

    25.1.1 Exclamations with tài

    25.1.2 Question-word questions as exclamations

    25.2 Interjections

    25.2.1 Tone variations in interjections

    25.3 Appositions

    25.4 People being addressed [apostrophe]

    Part IV Paragraphs


    26.1 A diary

    26.2 A letter

    26.3 A dialogue

    26.4 A welcome speech

    26.5 A description

    26.6 An explanatory piece of writing

    The way to learn Chinese words

    26.7 An argumentative piece of writing

    Part V Speech habits: meaning and form


    27.1 Universal, cotextual or contextual omissions and abbreviations

    27.1.1 Sentence patterns (1)

    27.1.2 Sentence patterns (2) 

    27.2 Sentence extension following paragraph patterns

    27.3 Further features of sentence extension

    27.3.1 Sentences extended by illustration or exemplification

    27.3.2 Sentences extended by reasoning

    27.3.3 Sentences extended by detailing or amplification

    27.3.4 Sentences extended by result or purpose

    Part VI Writing conventions: classical quadrisyllabic patterns or idioms


    28.1 An overview of four-character or quadrisyllabic idioms

    28.1.1 The distinction between quadrisyllabic patterns and quadrisyllabic idioms 

    28.1.2 The internal structure of quadrisyllabic idioms

    28.2 Quadrisyllabic idioms at work

    28.3 How quadrisyllabic idioms mix comfortably with other rhythms in writing

    Part VII Contemporary developments in Chinese: new syntatctic and lexical tendencies


    29 Contemporary linguistic developments

    29.1 New syntactic tendencies

    29.1.1 Shift of word classes

    29.1.2 Extensive use of pseudo-)suffixes or (pseudo-)prefixes

    29.1.3 Multi-syllabic coinages on 'attributive + headword' syntactic pattern

    29.2 New ways of lexicalisation

    29.2.1 Direct borrowings

    29.2.2 Semantic/phonetic calques (total or partial)

    29.2.3 Intra-language transliterations

    29.2 4 Internet neologisms

    29.2.5 Neologisms occurring in conversational exchanges

    29.2.6 Abbreviations from quadrisyllabic idioms


    Glossary of grammatical terms




    Yip Po-Ching is former Lecturer in Chinese Studies at the University of Leeds.


    Don Rimmington is Emeritus Professor of East Asian Studies and former Head of the East Asian Studies Department at the University of Leeds.