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flautert

Expressing "to do the best one can"

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flautert

Hi all,


I came across this sentence which construction I cannot really understand:

他跑得能有多快就有多快。
tā pǎo de néng yǒu duō kuài jiù yǒu duō kuài .
He ran as fast as he could.

 

What is the logic behind it? Should I just accept and memorize it?
 
If I want to say, for instance, "I am doing the best I can", could I say:
我在做能有多好就有多好
Wǒ zài zuò néng yǒu duō hǎo jiù yǒu duō hǎo

 

Thanks!

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somethingfunny

Where's Publius?

 

I'd say you'd need to add in an extra 得 in your example, like in the original.

 

Grammatically, I believe that 能有多快就有多快 is an adverbial phrase, modifying the verb 跑 - this is why there is the 得 which has the grammatical function of connecting a verb and adverb.

 

So your sentence is basically the same as:

 

他跑得快

 

However, rather than just 快, we've now got:

 

1. 能有多快 which is, literally, "able-have-much-fast", or "as fast as able".

2. 就有多快 which is, literally, "then-have-that much-fast", or "then that fast".

 

Note that the meaning of 多 changes from the first part to the second part.

 

Maybe someone else can provide a more succinct explanation.

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roddy

You've got two bits, everything up to and including the 得 and everything after. 

 

For the first bit, you've got a degree complement. Someone's running, and what comes after the 得 is going to tell us in what manner they're running. It could be very fast, it could be like a drunkard, it could very nearly anything.

 

The second bit is similar to this, but with 能 instead of 想 - so instead of 'to the extent one likes' it's 'to the extent one is able'

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somethingfunny

That second link is pretty much exactly what the OP needs to read.

 

Also, isn't the degree complement the bit after the 得?

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roddy

You're right. Sadly, I'm not Publius.

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hoshinoumi

So, following OP's sentence pattern could we use it for two syllable adjectives or verbs?

For example: 他看书看得能有多快就有多快。

他做饭做的能有多好吃就有多好吃。

I'm sure the second one doesn't sound quite right.

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Publius

@hoshinoumi, your two-syllable verbs aren't truly two-syllable. They are "verb + object" compounds where the object can move around.

他饭做得要多好吃就有多好吃 works fine with me.

To illustrate your point, you need verbs whose two syllables can't be separated, for instance, 激动:

他激动得要多??就有多??  The choice is quite limited. Maybe 夸张 works here.

Or 他哭泣得要多??就有多?? I can't seem to find a word that fits, maybe because it's a bit too literary. But the monosyllabic version 他哭得要多难看就有多难看 is fine. (EDIT: 他哭泣得要多悲切就多悲切 seems to be fine.)

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flautert

Thank you all very much. I think I get it now.

 

Another, more basic question, occurred me while reading your answers: can I say 他很快跑 instead of 他跑得很快?

 

Thanks!

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evn108
10 hours ago, Publius said:

Since "I am doing the best I can" is a different idiom, we express it differently.

what about just 盡量

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Publius

@flautertNo, you can't. It's not a well-constructed Chinese sentence.

In Chinese, the number of syllables matters. 他很快跑 leaves the sentence unfinished.

他很快跑开了 is okay. But here 很快 means "with little delay", not "at a fast speed". Different kinds of adverbials go to different slots.

 

@evn108 尽量 is an adverb. It can be used as a short response in an exchange, but it's not a complete sentence.

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flautert

Thanks, Publius!

 

Speaking of word order, in this phrase of the SpoonFed Chinese Anki deck it is suggested that the adjective can be placed before the verb:

 

You worked too hard.
nǐ gōngzuò tài nǔlì le. (also ni tai nuli gongzuo le)
你工作太努力了。

 

Is it because of the presence of the 太? What I mean is, to mean "you work hard" could I say 你工作努力 as well as 你努力工作?

 

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dwq

形容詞 (adjectives) modifies nouns / pronouns. Since 太 is modifying 努力, it is not an adjective, but rather a 副詞 (similar to an English adverb).

 

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flautert

I knew that, thanks.

What I'd like to know is if to mean "you work hard" I could say 你工作努力 as well as 你努力工作. If not, that would be because of the absence of the adverb, I guess.

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dwq

現代漢語辭典 gives 努力工作 and 學習很努力 as examples.

 

I thought 努力 would be 副詞 since it is modifying a verb but it is classified as 形容詞 in the dictionary, someone claims that it is used as 狀語 in this case.

 

https://zhidao.baidu.com/question/374737672.html

 

Take the following with a grain of salt:

 

If you explicitly say 努力地 , that would be 副詞 I guess?

 

Also, I feel adding 很 makes it sound more natural, if my boss says 你努力工作 I might take it as an order to work hard (like 你要努力工作) whereas if he says 你很努力工作 or 你工作很努力 I would take it as a compliment.  I would not be sure what he means if he says 你工作努力, it sounds kind of incomplete.

 

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