Jump to content
  • Sign Up

Position of location when using adverbs


Recommended Posts

  • New Members



So I've been studying grammar with a textbook, and I came across this line "Adverbs occur at the beginning of the predicate, before the verb and any prepositional phrase. Adverbs usually occur after the 'time when' phrase."

So I take this to imply that adverbs would come before any location information in a prepositional phrase, like so: "Subject + adverb + prepositional phrase + verb"


This much makes sense to me, so that covers sentences like the two below (that I'm pretty sure are valid)

1. ”我们都在学校读书“

2. "我只在家看了一個電影" (I only watched a movie at home)


My confusion comes from how there are also sentences like

3. "我在家只看了一个电影" (At home, I only watched one movie)

This sentence is also valid as far as I'm aware and has a slightly different meaning from 2. But it doesn't follow the pattern that my textbook says, and I can't find any notes on another sentence structure that this fits. So what gives?

Is “我在家” itself the subject? Or is there another sentence structure that I'm not aware of?

If so could someone please explain?




Link to comment
Share on other sites

My assumption is that your textbook means "adverbs followed by 地". But even then, I think there is some flexibility to say things like 我耐心地在家裡等他, despite being less "correct".

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • New Members

Hey, thanks for replying.


To clarify, I don't think my book is talking only about those adverbs followed by 地. 

Here's some more examples from my book: http://imgur.com/hCDyVPH


They say "[adverbs] do not occur between the prepositional phrase and the main verb", although somewhere else they did mention prepositional phrases for time are exceptions. I'm wondering if the example #3 is also an exception, or a different sentence structure completely. If someone properly defined the rule that allows such a sentence (#3 in my original post) to be valid, I would really like to see it. 


Or if #3 is even a valid sentence. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites



"Adverbs occur at the beginning of the predicate, before the verb and any prepositional phrase. Adverbs usually occur after the 'time when' phrase."

it doesn't say adverb necessarily comes before location phrase. It comes after time phrase, but berfore the word it is modifying. 我只在家看了一个电影 is about the fact that the only thing 我 did was wathching a film at home. 我在家只看了一个电影 indicates that 我 at home watched only one film.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My two pennies worth.


First of all, #2 (我只在家看了一個電影) and #3 (我在家只看了一个电影) are both valid.


As the OP has notices, they are slightly different in meaning. I think the English translation offers a clue: "At home, I only watched one movie." The word order is a bit unusual even for English. My understanding is: 在家 in #3 is being topicalized. The focus has shifted, from what I did to what I did at home. As a result, 只 now only modifies a shorter phrase 看了一个电影.

我只在家看了一个电影 answers a question like 你放假去哪玩了? => Nowhere. The only thing I did was watch a movie at home.

我在家只看了一个电影 answers a question like 你放假回家都干什么了? => At home? At home, I only watched a movie.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and select your username and password later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Click here to reply. Select text to quote.

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...