Project:Ci Chinese Parts of Speech and Other Entry Labels

From Wenlin Dictionaries

a.m. Aspect Marker (Tǐbiāojì 体标记)

Aspect means the stage of completion of an action. Chinese usually uses verbal suffixes as a means of indicating this information. Examples of Chinese aspect include the (i) durative (action in progress, much like ‘-ing’ in English), e.g., zhe 着 in kànzhe 看着 ‘is watching’; (ii) perfective (completed action), e.g., le 了 in kànle wǔ ge diànyǐng 看了五个电影, ‘saw five movies’; and (iii) experiential (much like the ‘ever’ in the question ‘Have you ever ... ∼?’), e.g., guo 过 in jiànguo tā 见过他 ‘have met him before’. Note that aspect is not the same thing as tense. Tense refers to when the action takes place relative to when the utterance is actually spoken, and so at most any language can have only three tenses: past, present and future. Aspect, on the other hand, can occur in any tense, so that even completed action can be spoken of in the (a) past, e.g., Tā zuótiān dàole Běijīng 他昨天到了北京 ‘He arrived in Beijing yesterday’; (b) present, e.g., Tā xiànzài dàole Běijīng 他现在到了北京 ‘He has now arrived in Beijing’; or (c) future, e.g., Tā míngtiān zhèige shíhou yǐjing dàole Běijīng 他明天这个时候已经到了北京 ‘He will already have arrived in Beijing by this time tomorrow’. (See also for usage of le 了 as a sentence-final particle.)

a.t. Abstruse Term (Shēn’àocí 深奥词)

A term that occurs so infrequently or has such unclear syntactic behavior that its part of speech cannot be determined with assurance, if at all. E.g., géqiǎn 格浅.

ab. Abbreviation (Suōxiěcí 缩写词)

Multi-syllable nominal phrase usually shortened to two or three syllables. E.g., Běi Dà 北大 for Běijīng Dàxué 北京大学.

adv. Adverb (Fùcí 副词)

Adverbs modify the action of the verb. Verbal modification includes (i) intensification, e.g., hěn 很 in hěn hǎo 很好 ‘is very good’; (ii) negation, e.g., bù 不 in bù shuō 不说 ‘doesn’t speak’; (iii) quantification, e.g., dōu 都 in dōu shuō 都说 ‘all say’; (iv) repetition, e.g., zài 再 in zài shuō 再说 ‘say it again’; etc. Most stative verbs (s.v.) can also function as adverbs (sometimes with reduplication), e.g., màn 慢 in mànmàn chī 慢慢吃 ‘Take your time (eating)’ and rènzhēn 认真 in rènzhēn de xiě 认真地写 ‘write carefully’. However, this is only a secondary function of a stative verb. Therefore stative verbs are not additionally labeled as adverbs in this dictionary.

attr. Attributive (Dìngyǔ 定语)

An attributive is any word, phrase or sentence that is found directly in front of a noun or noun phrase and functions to modify that noun. Just about any word, phrase or sentence in Chinese can easily function as an attributive. Because of this, the label is limited in this dictionary only to those entries that have no possible function other than that of attributive. Examples include gōnggòng 公共 in gōnggòng qìchē 公共汽车 ‘(public) bus’, qián 前 in qiánbàn 前半 ‘first half’, Zhōng-Měi 中美 in Zhōng-Měi guānxi 中美关系 ‘Sino-American relations’, etc.

aux. Auxiliary Verb (Zhùdòngcí 助动词)

This is what schoolteachers often call a “helping verb.” Auxiliary verbs in Chinese always precede the main verb, e.g., néng 能 in néng shuō Yīngwén 能说英文 ‘able to speak English’. When an auxiliary verb co-occurs with a coverb (cov.), then the auxiliary verb always precedes the coverb, e.g., néng gēn wàiguórén shuō Yīngwén 能跟外国人说英文 ‘able to speak English with foreigners’. In any sentence containing an auxiliary verb, negation is always placed directly in front of the auxiliary verb, e.g., bùnéng gēn wàiguórén shuō Yīngwén 不能跟外国人说英文 ‘unable to speak English with foreigners’.

b.f. Bound Form (Niánzhuó Císù 粘着词素)

Morphemes which do not function as free words in a sentence and cannot be handled using one of the other bound category labels, such as prefix, suffix, measure word, or particle. A given character may represent a free word in one or more of its meanings but a bound morpheme in other meanings. E.g., qiǎng 抢 is a bound form meaning ‘rush’ in qiǎngshōu 抢收 ‘rush a harvest’ but a free form as a verb meaning ‘pillage’. Compare the entry label char., used for characters that are not morphemes.

char. Character (Zì 字)

There are many characters that have no meaning of their own (at least in modern Chinese) but simply represent a syllabic sound. E.g., 葡 and 萄 in 葡萄 pútao ‘grapes’. For these entries we provide the entry label char., and in place of a definition we simply note words in which the character occurs. Compare bound forms (b.f.), which are meaningful morphemes although they may not be free words. Note: in the printed editions of the ABC Dictionary, the char. entry label is not used; instead, it is implied by the absence of an entry label.

cmp. Complement (Bǔyǔ 补语)

A complement is a post-verbal syllable, word, phrase or sentence that indicates the end result of the action carried out by the main verb. This end result may be (i) a state, e.g., wán 完 in chīwán 吃完 ‘finish eating’, zhù 住 in zhuāzhù 抓住 ‘grasp tightly’; (ii) physical displacement, e.g., guòlai 过来 in ná guòlai 拿过来 ‘bring over’, shàngqu 上去 in ná shàngqu 拿上去 ‘take up’; (iii) psychological displacement, e.g., xiàlai 下来 in mǎi xiàlai 买下来 ‘buy sth. (and thus bring it “down” into one’s own realm)’, etc. For all types of complement it is further possible to indicate the potential for that complement to be realized as a result of carrying out the main action. That potential or lack of potential is indicated by inserting a -de- 得 (indicating positive potential) or a -bu- 不 (indicating no potential whatsoever) directly between the main verb and its complement, e.g., chīdewán 吃得完 ‘able to finish sth. if one tries’, chībuwán 吃不完 ‘unable to finish sth. no matter how hard one tries’. See also Resultative Verb construction (r.v.).

conj. Conjunction (Liáncí 连词)

A conjunction is a word that joins phrases or sentences together to form a larger sentence or chunk of thought. Some examples include érqiě 而且 ‘furthermore’, suīrán 虽然 ‘although’, suǒyǐ 所以 ‘therefore’, jiù 就 ‘then’ and yàoburán 要不然 ‘otherwise’.

cons. Construction (Jùxíng 句型)

A fixed sentence pattern. E.g., yǔqí V1 bùrú V2 与其V1不如V2 ‘rather than V1 it is better to V2’ (where V1 and V2 represent any two verbs); cóng A qǐ 从A起 ‘starting/beginning from A’ (where A represents any word).

cov. Coverb (Jiècí 介词)

Entries of this category frequently translate into English as prepositions. They directly precede nouns, which in turn are followed immediately by the main verb/action, e.g., gēn 跟 in gēn wàiguórén shuō Yīngwén 跟外国人说英文 ‘speak English with foreigners’, gěi 给 in gěi péngyou mǎi lǐwù 给朋友买礼物 ‘buy a present for a friend’.

f.e. Fixed Expression (Gùdìng Cízǔ 固定词组)

Set expressions that allow for little if any freedom to substitute different words. They include (i) utterances whose meanings are exactly equivalent to the meaning of their parts, e.g., hǎojiǔbujiàn 好久不见 ‘haven’t seen (you) for a long time’, báirìzuòmèng 白日做梦 ‘daydream’, zhàn de gāo, kàn de yuǎn 站得高,看得远 ‘be far-sighted’; (ii) parallel nominal, verbal, or phrasal expressions, e.g., méiwánméiliǎo 没完没了 ‘endless’, pīhóngguàlǜ 披红挂绿 ‘drape honorific red silk band over sb.’s shoulders’; (iii) expressions whose meanings, although strictly speaking metaphorical, can nevertheless still be fairly easily understood when encountered in context, e.g., zǒumǎkànhuā 走马看花 ‘know only from cursory observation’. Very frequently example sentences are necessary for students to know how to use entries from this category actively.

id. Idiom (Xíyǔ 习语)

A subset of fixed expressions whose meanings cannot be understood from context, but rather depend upon the listener/reader’s specialized cultural, literary and/or historical knowledge in order to be understood. Most, if not all, idioms require example sentences in order for students to know how to use them actively, e.g., jiānghérìxià 江河日下 ‘go from bad to worse’; mùyǐchéngzhōu 木已成舟 ‘what’s done can’t be undone’; wángyángbǔláo 亡羊补牢 ‘better late than never’.

inf. Infix (Zhōngzhuì 中缀)

The two bound markers of the potential in resultative verb (see ) and directional verb constructions, i.e., ³de 得, bu 不, e.g., chīdewán 吃得完 ‘able to finish sth. if one tries’, ná bu xiàlai 拿不下来 ‘unable to get sth. down no matter how hard one tries’.

intj. Interjection (Gǎntàncí 感叹词)

An unbound exclamation. E.g., ²ài 唉 expressing sentiment/sympathy/disappointment; āiyō 哎哟 expressing surprise/pain.

m. Nominal Measure Word (Míngliàngcí 名量词)

In Chinese it is not possible to count the quantity of something simply by using a bare number, followed immediately by a noun. Rather, Chinese nouns all behave like the English nouns ‘paper’, ‘water’ and ‘dynamite’. That is, when we count these three nouns in English, we must include an additional word, such as ‘sheet’, ‘cup’ or ‘stick’ directly after the quantity, and directly in front of the noun. This additional word tells us something about the shape, size, unit of measurement, etc. of the noun in question. Some Chinese examples include zhāng 张 in yī zhāng zhuōzi 一张桌子 ‘one desk’; bǎ 把 in liǎng bǎ yǐzi 两把椅子 ‘two chairs’; and ⁴zhī 支 in sān zhī qiānbǐ 三支铅笔 ‘three pencils’. In recent years ge 个, the nonspecific measure word, has gradually been displacing the other, more specific measure words. In the dictionary, nouns that do not have a specific measure word may be used with ge 个. In actuality, ge 个 is also used with many other nouns as well.

m.p. Modal Particle (Yǔqìcí 语气词)

These are sentence-final particles that express some kind of attitude, opinion, or feeling of the speaker. A few of the attitudes commonly expressed by modal particles in Mandarin include (i) supposition, e.g., ba 吧 in Nǐ shì Měiguórén ba? 你是美国人吧? ‘You’re an American, right?’; (ii) warning, e.g., a 啊 in Nǐ bié shàng tā de dàng a! 你别上他的当啊! ‘Don’t be fooled by him!’; (iii) exclamation, e.g., lou 喽 in Chīfàn lou! 吃饭喽! ‘Time to eat!’; (iv) new (or currently relevant) situation, e.g., le 了 in Tài guì le. 太贵了。‘It’s too expensive.’

n. Noun (Míngcí 名词)

We use this label to cover a broad range of nominal expressions, from simple names of persons or things, to extended noun phrases (míngcí cízǔ 名词词组). (More technically: An expression that can be modified by a demonstrative pronoun plus a measure word. E.g., shū 书 in nà běn shū 那本书 ‘that book’.) Chinese nouns, unlike their English counterparts, usually do not inherently contain a sense of location. That is, while one can comfortably say: ‘He is eating by the picnic table’ in English, the same sentence cannot be translated directly into Chinese without modification. This is because the action of eating is taking place at a specific location by the picnic table, yet zhuōzi 桌子 ‘table’ all by itself in Chinese is merely a physical object. It lacks any natural sense of location. Therefore, some sort of locational information, e.g., nèibiānr 那边儿 ‘there’, xiàmian 下面 ‘under’ or lǐ 里 ‘in’, is required after zhuōzi 桌子 in order to locate the action in physical space. See (Place Word) for the special subtype of Chinese noun that does not require additional locational information when the noun serves as a location. The label n. is used for both nouns and noun phrases; the latter include (i) cases of the form ‘XX de Noun’ or ‘XX zhī Noun’, where modification of a noun takes place using a Subordinating Particle (s.p.), e.g., ài de jiéjīng 爱的结晶 ‘child of a couple in love’, bàijūnzhījiàng 败军之将 ‘general of a defeated army’, as well as (ii) cases where two or more levels of modification exist; ‘XX YY Noun’ and the complex entry itself is neither a proper technical term nor an accepted piece of jargon, e.g., àiguó wèishēng yùndòng 爱国卫生运动 ‘patriotic health campaign’.

num. Number (Shùcí 数词)

E.g., yī 一 ‘one’, èr 二 ‘two’, sān 三 ‘three’.

on. Onomatopoeia (Xiàngshēngcí 象声词)

These are terms that imitate or are suggestive of the sounds of the things they represent. Examples include

dīdā 滴答 ‘sound of dripping water’ and wūwū 呜呜 ‘sound of hooting’.

p.w. Place Word (Chùsuǒcí 处所词)

Most Chinese nouns do not convey a sense of location. Therefore, when a Chinese noun is used to indicate the whereabouts of another object or the setting of a particular action, it is normally necessary to place some sort of locational information, e.g., nèibiānr 那边儿 ‘there’, xiàmian 下面 ‘under’, lǐ 里 ‘in’, etc., directly after the reference noun (see discussion of ). However, there are certain types of nouns in Chinese that actually do inherently contain a salient enough sense of location that the inclusion of additional location information about that noun is largely unnecessary. These special nouns are called place words, and include (i) names of countries, e.g., Zhōngguó 中国 ‘China’, (ii) institutions, e.g., Běijīng Dàxué 北京大学 ‘Beijing University’, (iii) organizations, e.g., Liánhéguó 联合国 ‘United Nations’ and (iv) buildings, e.g., túshūguǎn 图书馆 ‘library’.

pr. Pronoun (Dàicí 代词)

Includes (i) personal pronouns, e.g., wǒ 我 ‘I, me’; (ii) interrogative pronouns, e.g., shuí 谁 ‘who?’; and (iii) demonstrative pronouns, e.g., zhè 这 ‘this’.

pref. Prefix (Qiánzhuì 前缀)

Always bound and prefixed to (i) nouns, e.g., lǎo 老 ‘old’ in Lǎo Wáng 老王 ‘old Wang’; ²fēi 非 ‘non’ in fēijīnshǔ 非金属 ‘non-metal’; (ii) numbers, e.g., dì 第 ‘sequence’ in dì-sān 第三 ‘third’; or (iii) verbs, e.g., ²kě 可 ‘can’ in kěxíng 可行 ‘doable’; hǎo 好 ‘good’ in hǎochī 好吃 ‘delicious’; ²nán 难 ‘difficult’ in nánchī 难吃 ‘bad tasting’.

r.f. Reduplicated Form (Chóngdiécí 重叠词)

Terms containing the reduplication of one or two basic syllables. Examples include (i) XXYY reduplication, e.g.,

mǎmahūhū 马马虎虎 ‘so-so’, and (ii) XYY reduplication, e.g., lěngbīngbīng 冷冰冰 ‘very cold’.

r.v. Resultative Verb (Jiéguǒ bǔyǔcí 结果补语词)

Sometimes Chinese focuses not only on the action itself, but also on the end result or goal of that action, e.g.,

chīwán 吃完 (lit. ‘eat and finish’) and ná guòlai 拿过来 (lit. ‘pick up and bring over’). ‘Finish’ is the end result of eating, and ‘ending up over here’ is the final result of picking sth. up and carrying it somewhere. These verb-complement constructions (see ) are labeled here as resultative verb constructions, even though some people might call ná guòlai 拿过来 by a different name. For both types of constructions it is further possible to indicate the potential for the goal of that action to be realized. That potential or lack of potential is indicated by inserting an infix (see ) -de- 得 (indicating positive potential) or -bu- 不 (indicating no potential whatsoever) directly between the main verb and the complement that follows it, e.g., chīdewán 吃得完 ‘able to finish sth. if one tries’, ná bu guòlai 拿不过来 ‘unable to bring sth. on over no matter how hard one tries’.

s.p. Subordinating Particle (Cóngshǔcí 从属词)

Used to link either (i) a modifying clause with the head noun that follows it, i.e., ¹de 的 and zhī 之, e.g., tāmen kàn de shū 他们看的书 ‘the book they read’; (ii) an adverbial with the verb that follows it, i.e., ²de 地, e.g., gāoxìng de shuō 高兴地说 ‘say happily’; or (iii) a verb and the manner clause that follows it, i.e., ³de 得, e.g., shuō de hěn kuài 说得很快 ‘speak quickly’.

s.v. Stative Verb (Jìngtài Dòngcí 静态动词)

These entries are frequently translated into English as adjectives, even though they actually behave in Chinese as verbs. That is, the sense of ‘to be’ is already incorporated into these verbs, e.g., Zhèige hěn hǎo 这个很好 ‘This is quite good’. In fact, it is simply ungrammatical to place the verb shì 是, ‘to be’, directly in front of a stative verb. Because stative verbs are actually verbs, they are directly negated by bù 不, e.g., bù hǎo 不好 ‘not good’, and can be further modified by adverbs of degree such as hěn 很 ‘quite’, fēicháng 非常 ‘extremely’ and shífēn 十分 ‘very; utterly’. One common function of stative verbs is that they may serve as adverbs to other actions, e.g., mànmàn 慢慢 in mànmàn chī 慢慢吃 ‘take your time (eating)’ and rènzhēn de xiě 认真地写 ‘write carefully’.

suf. Suffix (Hòuzhuì 后缀)

Always bound, most suffixes combine with nouns, e.g., ²huà 化, r 儿, biān 边, lǐ 里, wài 外, zhōng 中, though verbal suffixes, e.g., bùdié 不迭, chūlai 出来, also exist. Aspect markers (a.m.) are one type of verbal suffix, but are treated as an independent category here. Note that whereas monosyllabic position morphemes such as lǐ 里 and wài 外 are suffixes, their bisyllabic semantic equivalents lǐtou 里头, wàibian 外biān, zhōngjiān 中间 etc. are place words (p.w.).

v. Verb (Dòngcí 动词)

A word indicating an action or existence. E.g., chī 吃 ‘eat’, zài 在 ‘exist; be at’. (More technically: A word that can be modified by the negatives bù 不 ‘not’ and méi 没 ‘have/did not’. E.g., bù qù 不去 ‘do not go’, méi qù 没去 ‘did not go’.) See also Stative Verb (s.v.) and construction.

v.m. Verbal Measure Word (Dòngliàngcí 动量词)

These are bound syllables, suffixed to a quantity, that indicate the number of times an action has taken place, e.g., cì 次, tàng 趟: qù yī tàng 去一趟 ‘go once’; ³biàn 遍: zài shuō yī biàn 再说一遍 ‘say it again’.

v.o. Verb-Object Construction (Dòng-Bīn Jiégòu 动宾结构)

Many English verbs get translated into natural Chinese as a verb plus an object noun, e.g., chīfàn 吃饭 for ‘eat’, shuōhuà 说话 for ‘speak’, etc. It is important for two reasons to know what is merely a verb in Chinese and what is actually a verb-object construction. First, verb-object constructions can never take a second object, i.e., chīfàn 吃饭 can never be followed directly by something else to be eaten. Second, a verb and its object can be separated from one another, thus allowing (i) aspect particles to be placed directly after the verb, e.g., chīle fàn 吃了饭 ‘after finishing eating’; (ii) modification of the object, e.g., chī Zhōngguófàn 吃中国饭 ‘eat Chinese food’; and (iii) quantification of the noun, e.g., chīle sān wǎn fàn 吃了三碗饭 ‘ate three bowls of rice’. See also Stative Verb (s.v.).

v.p. Verb Phrase (Dòngcí Cízǔ 动词词组)

This includes (i) descriptive predicates that do not behave as stative verbs, e.g., ǎirán 蔼然 ‘amicable; amiable’, as well as (ii) phrases and longer chunks containing a verb that are not fixed expressions, e.g., bǎiláibǎiqù 摆来摆去 ‘sway; waver’, áidào tiānhēi 挨到天黑 ‘bear up until nightfall’.