Verb tenses

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  • Lethargic

    New Member
    Mandarin
    Hi, linguist786

    Notice that is a tense word in Chinese, as "be done" in English.
    I hope this helps you.

    I'm sorri... Thank you pascal zh
    Edit: it certainly indicates Chinese syntactic passive form.
     

    pascal_zh

    Member
    French - France
    A tense word in Chinese? That seems weird to me: as far as I know, there are no tenses in Chinese. I would rather say that 被 indicates a passive forn.
    E.g.:
    吃 : to eat
    被吃 : to be eaten
    In this sentence :
    分 to devide
    被分 to be devided
     

    pascal_zh

    Member
    French - France
    I mean that there are no tenses in the way we understand this in Western languages: past, present or future tenses. 已经 does not mean that it's the past, it means that the action is already finished.
    E.g.:
    明天中午,就算他已经吃好饭了,我还是非要他陪我再吃一顿不可。

    (And I'm really sorry to be "a little bit far from Chinese language" after having studied it for 26 years and after having published 100+ articles in the Chinese press.)! ;)
     
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    pascal_zh

    Member
    French - France
    I agree with you. As far as I know, a lot of words are used to express tense, like 过,了,正,刚 and so forth.
    Sorry to insist, but I think 过, 了, 正, 刚, 便, 将要, 已经, 已 etc., do not express tense. These particles are used to tell people what the state of the action is, and do not tell if it's present, past or future.
     

    Lethargic

    New Member
    Mandarin
    Sorry to insist, but I think 过, 了, 正, 刚, 便, 将要, 已经, 已 etc., do not express tense. These particles are used to tell people what the state of the action is, and do not tell if it's present, past or future.
    I venture to disagree.

    You know, we cannot say 我明天已经吃饭了 or 他明天来过. Cause 已经 and 过 indicate that the action occured in the past. So there are tense words in Chinses system, which are in our official textbook. (I am a Chinese student and now in China)

    If you are not native Chinese, it's probably hard to understand. Because they are radically different language system. To a certain extent, you are right. I guess you are a professor who are very good at Chinese and study it for a long time. But in some details, you may not fully understand.

    Btw, I think your Mandarin is very very good.
     
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    twinklestar

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Sorry to insist, but I think 过, 了, 正, 刚, 便, 将要, 已经, 已 etc., do not express tense. These particles are used to tell people what the state of the action is, and do not tell if it's present, past or future.
    The Chinese language doesn't use the inflexions of words to express the tenses but the different adverbs of time and adverbials of time.

    这座房子不复存在了。(future tense)- The house will not exist any more.
    这座房子北京。(present tense) The house is located in Beijing.
    这座房子在北京 (Past tense) The house once existed in Beijing.
    这座房子正在施工(Present continous) The house is being built
     
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    pascal_zh

    Member
    French - France
    The Chinese language doesn't use the inflexions of words to express the tenses but the different adverbs of time and adverbials of time.

    这座房子不复存在了。(future tense)- The house will not exist any more.
    这座房子北京。(present tense) The house is located in Beijing.
    这座房子在北京 (Past tense) The house once existed in Beijing.
    这座房子正在施工(Present continous) The house is being built
    OK, well, maybe can you explain these to me:

    去年发生大地震的时候,我北京。Last year, when there was the big earthquake, I was in Beijing.
    去年我在北京的时候,他正在学习英语。Last year, when I was in Beijing, he was studying English.

    Being a native speaker doesn't make you a grammar specialist of your own language.:) Myself, I am always suprised about how I cannot explain French grammar points I am using everyday.

    Maybe you should talk to your Chinese grammar teacher.:D
     
    hi pascal, I am not sure what there is to explain. Is it the fact that 在 = was and 正在 = studying? in this case is a particle referring to a place, where as 正在 refers to time. I also believe that Chinese uses particles to indicate tense instead of conjugation. However, particles can also be use in other things in addition to tense, just like perpositions can be used for time, place, etc. Just like "de" in French, right?

    Wikipedia has an entry on Chinese grammar discussing past, present, and future with particles, you can look into it
     

    BODYholic

    Senior Member
    Chinese Cantonese
    去年发生大地震的时候,我北京。Last year, when there was the big earthquake, I was in Beijing.
    去年我在北京的时候,他正在习英语。Last year, when I was in Beijing, he was studying English.
    I know exactly where you are leading to but by giving a sole example does not over-rule those that were provided by twinklestar. You are merely providing another route of expressing tenses in Chinese.

    In Chinese, any words that modify or indicate time determine the tense of that sentence.

    Take the generic sentence: 我吃饭.

    1. With time indicator (as what you have advocated)
    a. 昨天我吃饭. (past tense)
    b.今天我吃饭. (present tense)
    c. 明天我吃饭. (future tense)

    2. I may also express tenses without using time indicators.
    a. 已经饭了. (past tense)
    b. 正在饭. (present tense)
    c. 将要饭. (future tense)

    By now, you should know that there are so many methods to express tenses in Chinese and hence verb conjugation is, unlike English and French, redundant.

    Being a native speaker doesn't make you a grammar specialist of your own language.:) Myself, I am always suprised about how I cannot explain French grammar points I am using everyday.
    Chinese language is so "loose" and irregular that it is almost impossible to learn based solely on sentence patterns. But thankfully, having less grammatically rules also mean that there are hundreds of ways to say the same thing but still making sense.

    The reason for me to say this is, while native Chinese speakers do make mistake, we rarely commit grammatical ones. Since a great deal of Chinese grammars are based on logic and not syntax.
    E.g. 明天我吃饭了- This is more of logical error instead of grammatical. Honestly, even my 6yo nephew would not commit this sort of mistake.

    Having said that, mispronunciation and perhaps, wrong choice of words are the common ones that we err.
     

    the.yangist

    Member
    English - American
    I've gone through tons of grammar manuals and linguistics articles on the issue of Chinese verbs, and the gist of Chinese can be captured in about three facts:

    1.) Chinese predicatives, be they verbs or "adjectives," are really determined by the number of "arguments" (i.e. subject, indirect object, direct object) that they can carry. Adjectives are really like intransitive verbs, both of which take one argument, transitive verbs mostly take two arguments, but some take three.

    2.) Tense is implied by aspect! All of the major grammatical modifiers for Chinese sentences (了,過,(正)在,,著,吧,嗎) denote aspects, not tenses. However, just like certain aspects in English imply certain tenses, the same applies for Chinese. The aspects, though, are not perfectly analogous to English ones.

    3.) "Time words" (which, depending on position, are either adverbs or nouns) mark tense more specifically. There's an earlier post on this, so I'll just leave it be.
     

    BODYholic

    Senior Member
    Chinese Cantonese
    3. There are also sentences without time indicators nor particles like 过, 了, 正, 刚, 便, 将要, 已经 and etc.

    E.g. A死B. -> Is "杀" present, past or future tense?
    A
    到B 把碗. -> Is "打" present, past or future tense?

    Therefore, in Chinese, context also helps to determine suitable tense.
     

    the.yangist

    Member
    English - American
    3. There are also sentences without time indicators nor particles like 过, 了, 正, 刚, 便, 将要, 已经 and etc.

    E.g. A死B. -> Is "杀" present, past or future tense?
    A
    到B 把碗. -> Is "打" present, past or future tense?

    Therefore, in Chinese, context also helps to determine suitable tense.
    The second example is interesting because it presents interesting varieties that would work fine in English, but I would probably say that 打 is in the present tense. If you put an aspect marker for 看到 or 打, that would help clarify the meaning of the sentence, I believe.
     

    BODYholic

    Senior Member
    Chinese Cantonese
    The second example is interesting because it presents interesting varieties that would work fine in English, but I would probably say that ? is in the present tense. If you put an aspect marker for ?? or ?, that would help clarify the meaning of the sentence, I believe.
    the marker is already there.
    do not attempt to translate it in to english. use a bit of logic.

    (posted via hp)
     

    pascal_zh

    Member
    French - France
    2.) Tense is implied by aspect! All of the major grammatical modifiers for Chinese sentences (了,過,(正)在,,著,吧,嗎) denote aspects, not tenses. However, just like certain aspects in English imply certain tenses, the same applies for Chinese. The aspects, though, are not perfectly analogous to English ones.

    That was exactly my point: Chinese verbs use modifiers that denote aspect, not tenses. Saying for instance that 正在, like some Chinese friends told us here, is the present tense does not make tense. But anyway, that's not very important, right? ;) The important thing is to speak Chinese, and to enjoy it! Pascal
     

    BODYholic

    Senior Member
    Chinese Cantonese
    They are writing from a technical point of view. The point coming from a linguist. Whereas we could only contribute based on layman perspective. Despite the fact I'm a full fledged Chinese, I have never heard of *aspect* in Chinese grammar. I mean most of us were not taught Chinese in English language ^_^"

    Technicality asides, Chinese language has the capability to express past actions, albeit differ totally from that of English, French and others.
     

    the.yangist

    Member
    English - American
    Aspect is a part of the linguist's vocabulary. Chinese and English have verbal aspect, albeit the types of aspect they have are very different from each other.
     
    Hi, linguist786

    Notice that is a tense word in Chinese, as "be done" in English.
    I hope this helps you.

    I'm sorri... Thank you pascal zh
    Edit: it certainly indicates Chinese syntactic passive form.
    at the beginning we are talking about aspect(被) in chinese,but after Lethargic tooks the aspect word(被) for tense word by mistake,we focus on whether there are tense words in chinese.It's a misunderstanding,I think.
     

    the.yangist

    Member
    English - American
    I'm pretty secure in believing there aren't strict tense words, the closest I could think to matching a tense auxiliary verb being (將)要, but I'm concerned over its classification. Does it fit better as a time word (like 明天, 半月, etc.), aspect marker, or auxiliary verb?

    I think 被 is used as a marker that allows subject-object inversion, like 把 allows for verb object inversion (though the latter under more restrictions than the former).

    時態 is what Yahoo's dictionary gave for aspect, though its reverse translation is misleading.

    The Wikipedia entry uses 體, and the Yahoo! dictionary also supports this. I don't have the capacity to add links, but just look up "aspect" in the English Wikipedia, and then click the 中文 option on the side.
     
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    Lugubert

    Senior Member
    Sometimes, labels are more confusing than helpful. Tense, mood, voice, aspect, Aktionsart... A language freak with a linguistic degree and working as a professional translator, I'm not even certain how best to to classify one certain set of Swedish verb forms.

    What it takes, I fear, is years of getting acquainted with a language if it uses other means than your own, and getting a feel of how you can express more or less delicate shades of meaning, like if an action occurs suddenly or gradually or habitually etc. There are so many different ways of arriving there.
     
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