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xuechengfeng

Grammar #2 是。。。的

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xuechengfeng

Can someone please explain the reasoning behind 是。。。的 and also the placement of these in relation to the rest of the sentence?

:help

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skylee

Here is one explanation - "是…的 used in assertion, where phrase ending in 的 is felt as “one which,” “one who”: 這塊布白 or 很白 this cloth (is) white, but 這塊布是白的 this cloth is a white one;"

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BeijingSlacker

我的老师是一个男的。

解决这个问题是非常不容易的。

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HashiriKata

The examples skylee and the 1st example by BeijingSlacker illustrate one use of 是。。。的, an occurrence which may be considered "accidental": X 是 Y (=X is Y)

Y here just happens to be a relative clause/ modifying phrase containing 的 (with the headnoun understood.)

There is also a genuine pair 是。。。的 for a particular grammatical function in Chinese, and which is very commonly used. It is this genuine pair that causes difficulty to learners:

是。。。的 is normally used to frame the part of the sentence you want to draw the hearer's attention to, because it provides an explanation or clarification of a situation (an not simply describing an action). Take a simple example:

a. 他坐船去: this sentence simply informs of some fact. But:

b. 他是坐船去的 may be said just because someone asked the reason for 他 being late to arrive, or not noticing the big accident on the road, or having such a romantic time, etc.

Similarly, beijingslacker's 2nd example

e. 解决这个问题是非常不容易的

may be said as an explanation for the fact that the speaker still being unable to make a decision.

Note particularly that with the genuine pair 是。。。的, the sentence still makes perfect sense without 是。。。的. Only that it doesn't answer some relevant question arising in the context. If you takes away 是。。。的 in the "accidental pair", the sentence would collapse because it's no longer grammatical:

c.我的老师是一个男的

d.我的老师一个男 (ungrammatical).

Please see also my reply in this thread for additional information:

http://www.chinese-forums.com/viewtopic.php?t=3392

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Jose

An interesting thing about this construction is that if there is an object following the verb, 的 can be moved in front of the object.

As an example, if I want to stress that I studied Physics at university, when, say, answering a question, I can use the 是 (...) 的 construction. In terms of word order there are two possibilities:

我是在大學學物理學的。

我是在大學學的物理學。

The first one seems more logical, but both are commonly used.

Another usage of 是 (...) 的 is with non-gradable adjectives. Compare the following sentences:

He is tall = 他很高

That car is fast = 那輛汽車很快

And

The answer is correct = 答案是正確的

That table is round = 那張桌子是圓的

This point is explained in more detail in "Chinese: An Essential Grammar" by Yip Po-Ching and Don Rimmington (Routledge, London, 1997).

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xuechengfeng

very nice, one more heave-ho, then I'll archive. 8)

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freefall

I was just looking in my pocket dictionary and it has a bunch of phrases under the 是 entry. I find them to be very interesting but I feel like I don't totally understand some of them. What follows is a sort of rambling that hopefully some knowledgeable people will want to comment on. :)

 

我是昨天到的。

Dictionary says 是 。。。 的 is a construction for emphasis. 昨天到的 can also mean 'the one that arrived yesterday' right? Could the above sentence be explained grammatically as

"I am the one who arrived yesterday" or is it something else? Could that be the origin of the construction? If so, has the construction become idiomatic or do people still think of the verb + de portion to be a noun that is the object of shi?

Other examples that work like this:

他是很用功的。

你是走路来的还是汽车来的?

我是没去。 shi used for emphasis-- I certainly did not go.

Well, this seems to refute my little theory because a native speaker confirmed that you cannot say 我是没去的。 with the extra de. (which would be translated as 'I am the one that didn't go'.) This verb stacking does not appear to be verb complementing or coverbial...

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imron

Rather than "I am the one who arrived yesterday", I would read 我是昨天到的 as, I arrived yesterday (as opposed to today, or 2 days ago etc). That is, you're placing emphasis on the actual time you arrived.

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anonymoose

I'm not sure how the 是...的 construction is explained linguistically, and whether it is derived in the way you suggested.

However, the 是...的 construction tends to be used for past tense actions. For present or future, 是 is used on its own without 的. So you could say for example:

我是明天到。

I'm not sure why you can't say 我是没去的. Perhaps a native speaker could explain why. To me it sounds OK, although I think 我是没有去的 conforms more to chinese prosody. But I'm just a learner, so what do I know?

As for 他是很用功的, I think this is a bit different because here 用功 is an adjective, and I think 的 belongs to the adjective rather than being part of the 是...的 construction.

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Jose

Anonymoose makes a very interesting point, which is the fact that this construction is always (or nearly always?) used to convey past actions. A year ago or so, I used to think that both 我是昨天來的 and *我是明天去的 were both acceptable sentences until a Chinese friend pointed out that the latter is wrong because 是 (...) 的 is always perceived as a past action. In sentences with a future reference, a plain 是 should be used, just as Anonymoose mentioned: 我是明天到.

The interesting question for past actions is when the 是 (...) 的 construction should be used instead of the more straightforward (...) 了 or (...) 過 constructions. This basically has to do with whether the emphasis is on the action itself or on the circumstances in which the action occurs. This has already been explained by imron, and I'll just add some examples that may help clarify this:

我發表了一篇演講 = I have delivered a speech.

我昨天發表了一篇演講 = I delivered a speech yesterday (a possible reply to the question "what did you do yesterday?")

我是昨天發表的一篇演講 = 我是昨天發表一篇演講的 = I delivered a speech yesterday = It was yesterday that I delivered a speech (answers the question "when did you deliver a speech?")

Similar examples to the last sentence:

我是在北京發表的一篇演講 = 我是在北京發表一篇演講的 = I delivered a speech in Beijing = It was in Beijing that I delivered a speech (answers the question "where did you deliver a speech?")

我是用英語發表的一篇演講 = 我是用英語發表一篇演講的 = I delivered a speech in English = It was in English that I delivered a speech (answers the question "in what language did you deliver a speech?")

I have just made up these examples, so please feel free to correct me if any of the sentences are not correct.

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HashiriKata
As for 他是很用功的, I think this is a bit different because here 用功 is an adjective, and I think 的 belongs to the adjective rather than being part of the 是...的 construction.
Actually, I think the 是 here is part of the 是...的 set.

You can certainly say: 他很用功,...

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anonymoose
Actually, I think the 是 here is part of the 是...的 set.

You can certainly say: 他很用功,...

That's true that you can say 他很用功. But a quick Google search also throws up some results for 他很用功的, so here either 的 is operating independently of 是, or this is in fact the 是...的 construction but the 是 has just been omitted. :conf

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HashiriKata
this is in fact the 是...的 construction but the 是 has just been omitted.
I think you can say this. Infact, if the circumstances permit, either member of the set can be omitted.

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freefall

I asked the native speaker again if one can add a 的 to '我是没去' -> '我是没去的‘ and this time she said it's okay. It must be really context sensitive for her to change her mind about it's legitimacy like that. I'm still curious about the grammar of 我是没去. But I've learned a lot. I love you guys.

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chaussen

我是没去的 doesn't sound very natural to me.i would think it means '我是没去的人里面的一个'(i am one of those who didn't go there) depending on the context.

我是没去 can be heard in sentences like this: 我是没去,但我知道是怎么回事。(it is true that i wasn't there,but i know what was happening.)often the speaker puts accent on '是' to concede that the first half of the sentence is correct.so please take this grammatical structure of '是' here as 'be...but'.

hope it helps

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zhouwei

是( )的is a constructure to used for emphasize something inculding when ,how ,who ,why and so on.but sometimes the character 是can be omitted in affirmative sentence

我是坐船来的----我坐船来的。---------emphasize the way of coming here

我是教中文的----我教中文的。---------emphasize the career

衣服是红色的。---衣服红色的---------the color.

negative sentence is 不是( ),the character 是must be kept and cant be omitted.

我不是坐船来的。

我不是教中文的。

衣服不是红色的。

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Carl Chen

It seems that 是....的 is influenced by other languages because In Chinese using adjective with 的 is not a must.

 

For example,

 

我是教中文的 = 我是中文老師

那張桌子是圓的 = 那張圓桌

答案是正確的 = 正解

我的老師是一個男的 = 我有一位男老師

解決這個問題是非常不容易的 = 這個問題很不容易解決

這朵美麗的花 = 這朵花很美

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