Chapter 5:Chinese Nouns
Chinese Grammar Updated: Sat, Oct 20, 2012 21:12 PM By HugChina
In this chapter we introduce Chinese nouns including common Chinese nouns, Chinese pronouns and reflexive pronoun 自己, inclusive pronoun, possession involving pronouns and Chinese proper nouns.
1. Common nounsMost nouns are common nouns. Their referents may be concrete (纸 zhǐ ‘paper,’ 桌子 zhuōzi ‘table,’ 水 shuǐ ‘water’) or abstract ( 思想 srxiǎng ‘thought,’ 原则 yuánzé ‘principle,’ 自由 zìyóu ‘freedom’). Mandarin makes no grammatical distinction between ‘mass’ and ‘count’ nouns. Mandarin common nouns have a single, invariant form. They do not reﬂect number, and the same form of the noun is used whether the noun is singular or plural. When no number is used with a noun, the noun is understood to be neither singular nor plural, but simply unspeciﬁed for number. In addition, nouns that occur without any modiﬁers or descriptions have a general rather than a speciﬁc reference. For example, 书 shū refers to ‘book’ in general and not to any speciﬁc book.When it is necessary to indicate the number of a noun, the noun is modiﬁed by a number + classiﬁer phrase. The classiﬁer is required after the number. Number + noun without an intervening classiﬁer is ungrammatical. Compare the following:Say this一本书 yì běn shūone bookNot this一书 yì shūSay this三个人 sān gè rén three peopleNot this三人 sān rénwhen a speciﬁer 这 zhèI zhèi ‘this/these,’ nà, nèi ‘that/those,’ or the question speciﬁer nk, nli ‘which’ modiﬁes the noun, it also must be followed by a classiﬁer or number + classiﬁer. If the number is one, the number may be omitted.
|zhè (yì) bln sht||nà likng bln sht||nkspn bln sht?|
|this book||those two books||which three books?|
2. Chinese PronounsMandarin has ﬁrst, second, and third person pronouns and has a reﬂexive pronoun. Mandarin pronouns have the following properties:• Pronouns are not distinguished in terms of grammatical role. The same pronouns are used for subject, object, possession, etc.• Pronouns have singular and plural forms. The sufﬁx - 们 men is added to the singular form to make it the plural form.• Gender is not reﬂected in the spoken language. The written language has distinctions for the second and third person pronouns, though only the third person gender distinction is commonly used.
|Firstperson||我 wǒ I/me||我们 wǒmen we/us (exclusive or neutral) 咱们 zánmen we (inclusive)|
|Second person||你nǐ(masculine or neutral) 妳nǐ (feminine) you||你们nǐmen you|
|Thirdperson||他 tā(masculine or neutral) 她 tā(feminine) 它 tā(non-human or inanimate)||他们 tāmen(masculine or non-speciﬁc for gender) 她们tāmen(feminine) tāmen (feminine) they/them|
|Reﬂexive||自己 zìjǐ self|
2.1 The Chinese reﬂexive pronoun zìjǐ ‘self’Mandarin Chinese has only one reﬂexive pronoun, and it is not marked for person or gender. To indicate person, the reﬂexive may optionally be preceded by the relevant personal pronoun.
|我自己wǒzìjǐ myself||我们自己wǒmen zìjǐ ourselves|
|你自己nǐzìjǐ yourself||你们自己nǐmen zìjǐ yourselves|
|他自己/她自己tpzìjǐ himself, herself||他们自己tāmen zìjǐ themselves|
2.2 The inclusive pronoun 咱们 zánmen ‘we’The inclusive pronoun 咱们 zánmen ‘we’ is used in northern dialects of Mandarin.咱们 zánmen ‘we’ refers to the speaker, other people associated with the speaker, and to the addressee. When a speaker uses咱们 zánmen ‘we’ as the subject, he or she includes you in the remarks.咱们都是自己人Zánmen dōu shì zìjǐ rén.We are all family. (We, including you, are all one family.)‘Inclusive’ 咱们 zánmen contrasts with an ‘exclusive’ use of ‘we’ that is associated with我们wǒmen. In the exclusive sense, 我们 wǒmen refers to the speaker and others associated with the speaker but not to the addressee.我们欢迎你。Wǒmen huānyíng nǐ.We welcome you.咱们 zánmen only has the inclusive meaning. In addition,咱们 zánmen is only used as subject, and never as object.我们 wǒmen can have either inclusive or exclusive meaning and it occurs as subject and object. It is much more commonly used than咱们 zánmen.
2.3 Modiﬁcation of pronounsPronouns represent an entire noun phrase. Therefore, in general, they are not further modiﬁed. However, Mandarin has a small number of literary expressions in which the pronoun is modiﬁed: 可怜的我 kělián de wǒpoor me美丽的她 měilì de tāpretty her善良的高老师 shànliáng de Gāo lǎoshīgood hearted professor Gao
2.4 Possession involving pronounsMandarin does not have possessive pronouns. The meaning of possessive pronouns is conveyed by pronoun + 的 de.我的朋友 wǒ de péngyoumy friend他的小狗 tā de xiáogǒuhis puppyHere is a table showing the Mandarin equivalent of English possessive pronouns.
|my||我的 wǒ de||our||我们 的 wǒmen de 咱们的 zánmen de|
|your||你的 nǐde||your||你们的 nǐmen de|
|his(hers)||他的(她的) tāde||their||他们的(她们的) tāmen de|
|Interogative whose||谁的 shui de|