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DonCachopo

Location phrase as adverbial vs complement

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DonCachopo

Hi

AFAIK, this is correct:

"我住在中国"

 

but these not:

"我学习在图书馆"

"我工作在医院"

 

Why? I can´t figure out the difference

 

Thanks

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Publius

Don't know for sure but my first reaction was: monosyllabic vs disyllabic?

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Orpheus

Agree with Publius. I think the verb that follows location expression with 在 normally consists of more than one syllable (in your examples: 学习 and 工作).

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Orpheus

我在图书馆学习

我在医院工作

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ZhangJiang

Haven't come here for a long time. It seems that verbs with static meaning are put before locations and verbs emphasizing motion are put after them. For example,

他坐在家里。

*他在家里坐。

but

*他跑在屋里。

他在屋里跑。

also

他站立在路边。

?他在路边站立。

Some verbs can be in both positions, with some difference in meaning:

船停靠在岸边。

船在岸边停靠。

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eddyf

The way that I logically look at it is that the word order kind of reflects a chronological or a cause/effect relationship. When the location phrase is used as an adverbial, it means that you first go to the location and then do some action there. But when it's used as a complement, it means that being at a location is the result of the action. This distinction is more obvious when there's a direct object, e.g. 把书放在桌子上.

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Orpheus

Have just checked Basic Chinese by Yip Po-Ching and Don Rimmington, and it says that for verbs which denote actions that will naturally end up in a location (e.g. 住,坐,躺), the location expressions are placed after the verb. For verbs which do not denote actions that will naturally end up in a location (e.g. 学习,工作), the location expressions are usually placed before the verb.

Hope this helps.

Cheers,

O

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ZhangJiang

Nice to see different ideas about this phenomenon. I don't think Basic Chinese has given a very convincing explanation though, because we have sentences like:

他站在路边、等在家门口、花开在山坡上.

I don't think standing, waiting or blooming naturally end up in a location, at least not more natural than studying and working.

Cheers.

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Publius

Yeah, eddyf is right.

 

From Chinese: A Comprehensive Grammar (2nd edition) by Yip Po-Ching and Don Rimmington:

 

8.2 在 zài with location expressions

To indicate location, the preposition or coverb2zài ‘(exist) in or at’ usually combines with a location expression.

The 在 zài coverbal phrase can be positioned earlier or later in a sentence depending on the meaning it contracts with the verb. It comes before the verb if the initiator of the action (usually the subject) has to be at a particular location before the action can be carried out, and it is placed post-verbally if the location indicates the position a particular being or object reaches following the action expressed in the verb. In other words, a pre-verbal location expression is usually concerned with the whereabouts of the subject (the initiator of the action) and a post-verbal location expression is more often than not concerned with the whereabouts of the object (which is usually topicalised).3 We will discuss the complemental (post-verbal) use of location expressions in §8.4 below, but here we are concerned with the adverbial use of location expressions with 在 zài, which come between the subject and the verb:

    学生们都在图书馆(里)看书。

    xuéshengmen dōu zài túshūguǎn (li) kànshū
    The students are all reading in the library.

2 Coverbs have already been mentioned in §6.5 and they will be discussed in detail in Chapter 11.
3 The object is regularly brought forward before the verb or topicalised through use of the 把 or notional passive construction, see Chapters 12 and 13.

 

    运动员们在操场上跑步。

    yùndòngyuánmen zài cāochǎng shàng pǎobù
    The athletes are running on the sportsground.

    有不少人在海里游泳。

    yǒu bùshǎo rén zài hǎi li yóuyǒng
    There are quite a few people swimming in the sea.

    雪花在空中飞舞。

    xuěhuā zài kōng zhōng fēiwǔ
    The snowflakes are dancing in the air.

    我在旧书店外边碰见了一个老朋友。

    wǒ zài jiù shūdiàn wàibian pèngjiàn le yī ge lǎo péngyou
    I bumped into an old friend outside the second-hand bookshop.

    有许多外国商人在中国东南部建立了企业。

    yǒu xǔduō wàiguó shāngrén zài zhōngguó dōngnánbù jiànlì le qǐyè
    Many foreign traders set up businesses in southeast China.

If the main verb is monosyllabic or does not have an object, the descriptive marker 着 zhe will have to be added to obtain a disyllabic rhythm:4

    鸟儿在树上吱吱喳喳地叫着。

    niǎor zài shù shàng zhīzhīzhāzhā de jiào zhe
    The birds are chattering in the trees.

    小猫在火炉旁睡着。
    xiǎo māo zài huǒlú páng shuì zhe
    The kitten is dozing beside the stove.

    洗好的衣服都在晾衣绳上晾着。
    xǐ hǎo de yīfu dōu zài liàngyīshéng shàng liàng zhe
    The clothes are drying on the line.

    金鱼在鱼缸里不停地游着。
    jīnyú zài yúgāng li bùtíng de yóu zhe
    The goldfish swims unceasingly round its tank/bowl.

    有两个卫兵在门口(旁)5站着。
    yǒu liǎng ge wèibīng zài ménkǒu (páng) zhàn zhe
    There are two guards standing at the entrance.

4 Monosyllabic rhythm may be possible in imperatives, e.g. 你在这儿等 nǐ zài zhèr děng, ‘Would you wait here’, 请在前面坐 qǐng zài qiánmiàn zuò ‘Please sit at the front’.
5 Disyllabic or trisyllabic nouns may combine with 在 zài to form location expressions without postpositions, e.g. 在图书馆 zài túshūguǎn ‘in the library’, 在门口 zài ménkǒu ‘at the entrance’ if there is no ambiguity as to the actual whereabouts.

 

Though the addition of 着 zhe ‘exist continuously in a particular manner’ is motivated by rhythm, the sentence with its presence becomes even more descriptive. This point will be picked up again in Chapter 21.

 

8.3 Location expressions as sentence terminators

If a location expression indicates the result of an action, it naturally comes after the verb. In other words, if a location expression emphasises the position the subject (the initiator of the action) or the topic (generally the notional object of the action) eventually reaches following the execution of the action implied in the verb, it is only natural for the location expression to come after the verb. Under such circumstances, the expression is always preceded by 在 zài ‘at; in; on’, etc. Location expressions as sentence
terminators are particularly common with 把 constructions or with notional passives.6 For example,

    他把大衣挂在衣架上。
    tā bǎ dàyī guà zài yījià shàng
    He hung [his] overcoat on the coat hanger/stand.

    妈妈把妹妹抱在怀里。
    māma bǎ mèimei bào zài huái li
    Mother took/held younger sister in her arms.

    爸爸把汽车停在路边。

    bàba bǎ qìchē tíng zài lùbian
    Father parked the car at the roadside.

    钱都存在银行里。
    qián dōu cún zài yínháng li
    The money is all deposited in the bank.

    信息都存在磁盘上。
    xìnxī dōu cún zài cípán shàng
    The information is all stored on the disk.

    游客们都躺在树荫下。
    yóukèmen dōu tǎng zài shùyīn xià
    The visitors all lay down in the shade of the tree(s).

    客人们都站在房子前面。
    kèrenmen dōu zhàn zài fángzi qiánmian
    The guests all stood in front of the house.

6 See Chapter 12 for 把 constructions and Chapter 13 for notional passives.

 

If the emphasis is the verb itself, the location expression becomes a coverbal phrase. For example, the last three examples may be reworded as:

    信息都在磁盘上存着。xìnxī dōu zài cípán shàng cún zhe
    The information is being stored on the disk.

    游客们都在树荫下躺着。yóukèmen dōu zài shùyīn xià tǎng zhe
    The visitors are all lying in the shade of the tree(s).

    客人们都在房子前面站着。
    kèrenmen dōu zài fángzi qiánmian zhàn zhe
    The guests are all standing in front of the house.

We can see that the post-verbal complemental use of the location expression focuses on the location, while the pre-verbal adverbial use of the location expression focuses on the action itself. The only case where the alternative structures do not make any difference in meaning is the use of verbs like 住 zhù ‘to live’. However, there will be a difference in their function: the former is a descriptive (with a 在 zài location phrase), while the latter is an expository (with an unmarked verb):

    他们住在伦敦。tāmen zhù zài lúndūn
    他们在伦敦住。7 tāmen zài lúndūn zhù
    They live in London.

7 Note that in this case 住 zhù ‘to live; to stay’ is used monosyllabically without the addition of 着 zhe, or it would be a descriptive sentence again.

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DonCachopo

Thank you everyone for the answers, what a marvelous forum have here.

Anyway, I still am not able to understand totally this. How do you apply this to the verbs 工作 and 住? Both have to start and end in the specified place, don't they?

Edit : Sorry,I didn't read the party saying that 住 is an exception

Enviado desde mi SM-N9005 mediante Tapatalk

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ZhangJiang

I warn myself that just because something is written in a book doesn't automatically render it right. (Is this sentence grammatical?)

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Michaelyus
The Chinese grammar Wiki has the simplified account of this difference: https://resources.allsetlearning.com/chinese/grammar/Location_complement.

 

Pedagogically, this is how I generally structure the "rule":

You should always put the 在/到/... complement before the verb, remembering the 着 if required) unless

1) you have a 把 construction;

2) you have one of these exception verbs, 走 停 住 待 坐 站 [and even 开 as above].

 

Why these particular verbs allow the post-verbal exception is generally ascribed to "directed motion" of various kinds, and relates it to the resultative complements being post-verbal too. However, this is a subject of ongoing linguistic research. One approach that doesn't use "directed motion" is looking at the interaction of aspect and telicity of the verbs in question, and how the post-verbal form creates an event boundary, which has to be semantically appropriate to the verb in question.

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