Grammar notes

I’ll be adding grammar notes entries to the blog on a regular basis.  I mean for them to be short notes to keep track of non-obvious grammatical features in Chinese.  By non-obvious, I mean non-obvious to me.  My textbook misled me, or it didn’t tell me at all.  Or maybe my textbook did tell me, but since it’s nothing like my native language, I’m intrigued.  I’m interested both in what is grammatical and what isn’t grammatical–not in the “my grammar book says this is correct” sense, but in the “native speakers of the language can say it this way” sense.  This is the kind of information that syntacticians use when analyzing the grammatical structure of a language.  This is also the kind of information that language learners need to know if they want to sound like Chinese speakers instead of English speakers speaking Chinese.

This kind of information is sometimes difficult to come by.  My Chinese teacher used to be an elementary school Chinese teacher, and she’s very concerned that I learn correct Mandarin–in the “the grammar book says this is correct” sense.  I’m not opposed to the idea.  But when she tells me something is wrong, I try to verify what kind of wrong she means.  If I don’t indicate otherwise, I’ve verified with her that it’s wrong in the “native Chinese speakers wouldn’t say it that way” sense.  I’m happy to have additional judgments, especially ones coming from people who are a little less attached to their grammar books.

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