Chapter 7:Specifiers and demonstratives in Chinese

Updated:Sat, Oct 20, 2012 20:33 PM     Related:Chinese specifiers

这zhè and 那nà have two functions: used as Chinese demonstratives, or words that are used to point out an item; and used as Chinese specifiers, or words that occur as part of a noun phrase and that identify specific items:

 

这zhè and 那nà have two functions.

They can be used as demonstratives, or words that are used to point out an item:

那是汉语字典 That is a Chinese language dictionary.

They can be used as specifiers, or words that occur as part of a noun phrase and that identify specific items:

这三本书 these three books

When used as specifiers, these words each have an alternative pronunciation. 这may be pronounced zhè or zhèi. 那may be pronounced nà or nèi. The choice of pronunciation varies by speaker and region of China.

1. 这 zhè ‘this’ and 那 nà ‘that’ as demonstratives

As demonstratives, 这zhè ‘this’ and 那nà ‘that’ refer to an entire noun phrase, either a concrete object or an abstract concept. They always occur at the beginning of the sentence, and they serve as the subject of the sentence. They can occur in statements or in questions.

那是中文字典 That is a Chinese dictionary.

这是我的书 This is my book.

那是什么? What is that? (lit. ‘That is what?’)

这是什么意思? What is the meaning of this? (lit. ‘This is what meaning?’)

2. 这 zhè, zhèi ‘this/these’ and 那 nà, nèi ‘that/those’as specifiers

When they are used as specifiers, 这 zhè, zhèi ‘this/these’ and 那nà, nèi ‘that/those’ are part of a noun phrase. They occur before the number if there is one, and before the classifier and the noun in this order:

specifier + (number) + classifier + noun

Here are examples of noun phrases that begin with specifiers. Following each noun phrase there is an example showing how the noun phrase is used in a sentence.

Noun phrase that begins with a specifier Sample sentence with the noun phrase
这三本书these three books 这三本书都很贵 These three books are all expensive.
这种音乐 this type of music 我很喜欢这种音乐 I like this kind of music very much.
那个人 that person 那个人很聪明 That person is very intelligent.
那个电影 that movie 我要看那个电影 I want to see that movie.

Notice that 这 zhè, zhèi and 那 nà, nèi do not have separate singular and plural forms.

3. 这儿 zhèr and 这里 =zhèlǐ ‘here,’那儿 nàr and 那里nàlǐ ‘there’

这儿zhèr (这里 zhèlǐ) ‘here’ and 那儿 nàr (那里 nàlǐ) ‘there’ indicate location. 这儿zhèr ‘here’ and 那儿nàr ‘there’ are used in the north of China, including Beijing. 这里 zhèlǐ and 那里 nàlm are used in the south of China, including Taiwan. The meaning and use of 这儿 zhèr and这里 zhèlǐ is the same, as is the meaning and use of 那儿nàr and那里 nàlǐ. Each member of the pair is interchangeable in our examples here and throughout this book.

这儿 zhèr ‘here’ and 那儿nàr ‘there’ may occur at the beginning of the sentence as the subject. As subjects, they may optionally be preceded by the location preposition 在 zài ‘at.’

(在)这儿有很多书店 Here (in this location) are a lot of bookstores.

(在)那儿没有停车场 There (in that location) there aren’t any parking lots.

When they are not the subject they must be preceded by the location preposition zài ‘at.’

我在这儿工作 I work here.

我在那儿买东西 I shop there.

People cannot serve as location nouns. To make a person into a location, follow it with a location specifier.

请到我这儿来 Please come to me. [to my location]

我们今天晚上去小王那儿吃饭 Tonight we’ll go to Xiao Wang’s to eat.

4. Question words that correspond to specifiers

•哪 nǎ/něi ‘which?’ is the question word that corresponds to the specifier 那 nà.

Question Answer
你要哪本书Which book do you want? (我要)那本(书)(I want) that (book). (lit. ‘You want which book?’)

•哪儿nǎr ‘where?’ is the question word that corresponds to the location words 这儿 zhèr ‘here’ and那儿nàr ‘there.’

Question Answer
Where is there a bookstore? There is a bookstore there.
Where do you work? I work here.

 

Source:HugChina

 

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