Time duration in verb/object structures

burdenofhope

New Member
Czech Republich - Czech & German
Hello,

I searched the forum and also some grammar books, but I couldn't find an answer for this one. Why is it that people say
你失业多久了?
or
你来中国多久了?
?

I thought if the verb itself was a "verb + object" type of structure, the duration would be placed between the verb and the object (or the verb would be repeated) as in
我学了一年 (的) 中文
Are the above examples exceptions to the rule or just colloquial language? Thanks for clearing that up, Michael.
 
  • SuperXW

    Senior Member
    To describe duration, you can either put the duration between the verb and the object, OR AFTER the object as a COMPLEMENT. So the following two are both correct.
    1.我学了一年 (的) 中文。:tick:
    2.我学中文一年了。:tick:

    By the way:
    Sentence 1 means "You learnt Chinese for 1 year," could be in any year.
    Sentence 2 means "You've been learning Chinese for 1 year." Must be the last year.
    This is about the usage and position of 了. It could be another topic.

    So, for the questions:
    1. 你学中文多久了?:tick:
    2. 你学了多久(的)中文?:tick:
    Both correct. Only the tense is a little bit different.

    To Kong.Zhong,
    I believe there ARE answers for most of the tricky grammar questions, we just never learnt it or thought about it, because for us it's like common sense. :)
     
    Last edited:
    To describe duration, you can either put the duration between the verb and the object, OR AFTER the object as a COMPLEMENT.
    Is it a complement? I don't think so.




    我学中文一年了
    一年了 literally means "it has been one year" or "one year has passed".
    So the the sentence literally means "I began studying Chinese and one year has passed."

    我学了一年中文
    The structure is the same as that of 我买了一个苹果.

    我学了一年的中文
    This 的 can be used after words expressing time duration.
     

    SuperXW

    Senior Member
    Is it a complement? I don't think so.
    我学中文一年了
    一年了 literally means "it has been one year" or "one year has passed".
    So the the sentence literally means "I began studying Chinese and one year has passed."
    Hi, I understand that you can separate the time part to explain it. I consider it as another way to see it.
    But in modern Chinese grammar(by the mainland) we do have 补语(complement, right?) as one proper component of a sentence. I think the high schools are still teaching this. Here's some reference from 百度:
    ②数量短语作补语
    看了三遍 成立五年 走了一趟 看了两眼 住了半个月
    Theoretically, all components in a proper Chinese sentence can be classified with 主谓宾定状补. In this case, 我-主,学-谓,中文-宾,一年了-补. That's why I see it as a "complement". :)
     

    xiaolijie

    Senior Member
    UK
    English (UK)
    Are the above examples exceptions to the rule or just colloquial language? Thanks for clearing that up, Michael.
    No, they are not exceptions. Broadly speaking, they're just a different way of saying the same thing. The following examples all mean the same:

    1. 我学了一年 的 中文
    2. 我学了一年 中文
    3. 我学中文一年了

    Notes:
    a - A slight difference among them is example 1 is a bit more formal than 2 and 3.
    b - In some contexts, the meaning of 3 can be slightly different from 1 and 2
    c - Grammatically, the structure of
    3. 我学中文一年了 is the same as your 2 examples:
    你失业多久了?
    你来中国多久了?

    Hope this helps!
     
    Broadly speaking, they're just a different way of saying the same thing. The following examples all mean the same:

    1. 我学了一年 的 中文
    2. 我学了一年 中文
    3. 我学中文一年了

    Notes:
    a - A slight difference among them is example 1 is a bit more formal than 2 and 3.
    b - In some contexts, the meaning of 3 can be slightly different from 1 and 2
    Sorry, I can't agree with you.

    As SuperXW said, the school grammar, which is based on the 暂拟汉语教学语法系统 designed 50 years ago, has a different analysis than I.
    Despite the differences in grammar structure, their meanings are also different.

    1)
    You can say “我(先)学了一年中文,然后……” and “我(先)学了一年的中文,然后……”
    But you can never say “我学中文一年了,然后……”
    You use the 了 in the first sentence to report "something happened".
    And you use the 了 in the second sentence to report your cognition (about the current state).

    2)
    You can say “我学了一年(的)中文,然后……”
    But you can't say “我学了中文一年,然后”

    You can say “我爱/骗了他一年,然后” and “他爱/骗了我一年,然后”
    But you can't say “我爱/骗了一年(的)他,然后” “他爱/骗了一年(的)我,然后”

    I don't know how to determine which form should be used.
    It seems that when the object is a person/people, you can't put a 数量词 before it. (an exception: put the 数量词 before the object if the 数量词 and the object refer to the same thing. e.g. 杀了三个人)
    The verb is also important.
    Both are acceptable:
     他去/待了五年(的)上海,然后
     他去/待了上海五年,然后
    When the verb means “to do work that you can initiatively decide how much to do”, you will usually put the 数量词 before the objective.

    It seems that the position of the 数量词 varies with that of the 了:
     他缺席了三天,然后……
     他缺了三天席,然后……


    3)
    verb + Time duration + 的 + object
    does not need to mean
    verb + Time duration + object

    e.g.
    他做了一天的工作。 cf. 他做了一天工作。(how much to do)
    他结束了一天的工作。(NOT how much to end)
    他开始了一天的工作。(NOT how much to start)
     
    Last edited:

    xiaolijie

    Senior Member
    UK
    English (UK)
    @YangMuye: I don't mind someone disagreeing with what I said, but please help the learners by pointing out precisely where and why you disagree and make sure your version is clear for all to understand. From your reponse to my post, I'm not even sure you understand my post properly.

    Let me give you an example:
    1. 我学了一年 的 中文
    2. 我学了一年 中文
    3. 我学中文一年了

    For illustration, I took these examples from the posts above me, including your own 我学中文一年了 (post #4). And yes, you now say that it's not correct !?
     
    1. 我学了一年 的 中文
    2. 我学了一年 中文
    3. 我学中文一年了
    I don't think they mean the same.

    It's clear that the modal particle 了 in 我学中文一年了 is different than the tense-aspect auxiliary 了.
    You won't say sentences like “我学中文一年了,然后又做了什么” , “我学中文一年了才…” or “我学中文一年了,掌握了…”
    You won't say “为了做什么, 我学中文一年了”, either.
    The modal particle 了 does not provide much information on the happening of something.

    On the other hand, I tends to ask “你学中文多久了” although “你学了多久中文” is also correct. I don't know how to explain the subtle difference.
    However the rhetorical questions are not interchangeable.
    1)“你才学了一年中文啊” right
    2)“你学中文才(学了)一年啊” right
    3)“你才学中文一年了啊” wrong
    4)“你已经学了一年中文了啊” right
    5)“你学中文已经一年了啊” right
    6)“你已经学中文一年了啊” right
    7)“你已经学了一年中文啊” ???
    7)“你已经学了一年中文了啊” right
    8)“你学中文一年了啊” right
    The sentences without 啊 have very similar meanings.
    I use the the modal particle 了 when the I (or the listener in an interrogative sentence) realize the thing or get the conclusion according to my(/his) knowledge just now.

    And I don't think 我学了一年的中文 is more formal.
    I can't explain the difference between 我学了一年的中文 and 我学了一年中文, but
    1) The structures are different. Although these examples seem to mean the same, the structure of "verb+time+的+noun" is less restrictive than that of "verb+time+noun".
    2) When you want to emphasize on the length of the time, the version with 的 may be better, but I'm not sure.
    3) (I'm not sure) The noun in “verb+time+的+noun” seems to be more “definite”; The noun in “verb+time+noun” is more “indefinite”, which can hardly be modified by the definite article “the”
     
    Last edited:

    xiaolijie

    Senior Member
    UK
    English (UK)
    1. 我学了一年 的 中文
    2. 我学了一年 中文
    3. 我学中文一年了
    I don't think they mean the same.
    I don't think they mean the same either. Here is what I actually said:
    xiaolijie said:
    1. 我学了一年 的 中文
    2. 我学了一年 中文
    3. 我学中文一年了

    Notes:
    a - A slight difference among them is example 1 is a bit more formal than 2 and 3.
    b - In some contexts, the meaning of 3 can be slightly different from 1 and 2
    As you understand, we can't always say all we want to say in a short post, and not everyone wants to write long posts but let's just leave it for now, agree? :)
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top