Chapter 13: Chinese action verbs
Chinese Grammar Updated: Sun, Oct 21, 2012 00:01 AM By HugChina
This chapter shows you how to talk about completed, past, and ongoing actions, and introduces the overall properties of action verbs. There are two kinds of action verbs, those that describe open-ended actions, and those that describe actions that cause a change.
1. Indicating that an action is completed or pastTo indicate that an action is completed or past, follow the action verb with the verb sufﬁx 了 le.她买了东西。 She bought things.他到图书馆去了。She went to the library.If the action verb takes an object and the object is one syllable in length, 了le generally follows the object.她上课了。She attended class.
2. Indicating that an action has been experienced in the pastTo indicate that the subject had the experience of performing some action in thepast, follow the action verb with the verb sufﬁx 过guo. The verb sufﬁx 过 guo is used when talking about actions that the subject does not perform on a regular basis or for actions that happened in the remote past.我看过那个电影。 I’ve seen that movie before.我来过这里。 I’ve been here before.
3. Negating actions
3.1 Indicating that an action does not occur or will not occurTo indicate that an action does not occur or will not occur, negate the action verb with 不bù.我不吃肉。I don’t eat meat.台北从来不下雪。It does not snow in Taipei.明天是星期六，我们不上课。 Tomorrow is Saturday. We don’t attend class.
3.2 Indicating that an action did not occur in the pastTo indicate that an action did not occur in the past, negate the action verb with 没（有）méi (yǒu).我今天没（有）吃早饭。 I didn’t eat breakfast today.我没（有）买电脑。 I didn’t buy a computer.When a verb is negated with 没 (有) méi (yǒu), it cannot be sufﬁxed with 了 le. It can, however, be sufﬁxed with 过guo.I have never eaten Japanese food before. Say this:我没吃过日本菜。 Not this:我没吃了日本菜。
4. Open-ended action verbsOpen-ended action verbs refer to actions that can have duration and can be performed for a period of time. Examples of open-ended action verbs include 念niàn ‘to study/read aloud,’ 买 mǎi ‘to shop,’ 写xiě ‘to write,’ 学 xué ‘to study,’ 跑 pāo ‘to run,’ 吃 chī ‘to eat,’ 玩wán ‘to play,’ and 唱 chàng ‘to sing.’
4.1 Duration of open-ended actionsTo indicate the duration of an open-ended action verb, follow the verb with a duration expression. In the following examples, the verb is emphasized.他在中国住了一年。 He lived in China for a year.他每天看一个钟头的报纸。 He reads a newspaper for one hour every day.To emphasize the ongoing action of an open-ended action verb without specifying the length of the duration, follow the verb with the sufﬁx 着 zhe. 在zài and 呢 ne often occur with 着 zhe. 在zài occurs before the verb and 呢ne occurs at the end of the sentence.他在说这话呢。 He is speaking.
4.2 Open-ended action verbs and obligatory objectsOpen-ended action verbs are typically followed by an obligatory object, a noun phrase that serves as the direct object of the verb. Many open-ended action verbs have a default object, an object that automatically occurs with the verb.Default objects contribute little or no meaning to the verb+object phrase and are typically not translated into English. Open-ended action verb Defaul t object Verb + object Example sentence
|Open-ended action verb||Defaul t object||Verb object||Example sentence|
|说 shuō speak||话huà speech||说话shuō huà speak||他们在说话呢。They are speaking.|
|睡 shuì sleep||觉 jiào sleep||睡觉shuì jiào sleep||她没睡觉。She didn’t sleep.|
|看read||书book||看书read||我喜欢看书。I like to read.|
|吃 eat||饭 rice||吃饭 eat||我们吃饭吧！Let’s eat!|
|写 write||字 character||写字 write||他不会写字。He can’t write.|
|画 paint||画 picture||画画儿 paint||他会画画儿。He can paint.|
|唱 sing||歌 song||唱歌 sing||他周末跟朋友唱歌儿。He sings with friends on the weekend.|
|洗 wash||澡 bathe||洗澡 wash; bathe||孩子不喜欢洗澡。Children do not like to bathe.|
|睡 sleep||觉 a sleep||睡觉 sleep||你什么时候睡觉？What time do you go to sleep?|
5. Change-of-state action verbsChange-of-state verbs describe events in which the action of the verb results in a change. Here are some examples of change-of-state verbs.
|坐||zuò||to sit (a change from standing to sitting)|
|站||zhàn||to stand (a change from sitting to standing)|
|放||fàng||to put/place (a change of location)|
|挂||guà||to hang (a change of location)|
|离开||líkāi||to depart (a change of location)|
|穿||chuān||to put on (clothing – on the torso and legs)|
|戴||dài||to put on (clothing – on the head, neck, and hands)|
|病||bìng||to become sick (a change of health)|
|到||dào||to arrive (a change of location from ‘not here’ to ‘here’)|
|去||qù||to go (a change of location from ‘here’ to ‘not here’)|
5.1 Change-of-state verbs and durationChange-of-state verbs have no duration so they cannot be sufﬁxed with the duration sufﬁx 着 zhe and they cannot occur in other patterns that focus on the duration of an event.
5.2 Change-of-state verbs and stative verbsMany change-of-state verbs also function as stative verbs.
|Change-of-state verb||Stative verb|
|坐||zuò||To sit down||To be seated|
|站||zhàn||To stand up||To be standing|
|戴||dài||To put on (clothing)||To wear|
|病||bìng||To become sick||To be sick|
|挂||guà||To hang (something up)||To be hanging|