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SunnySideUp

突然间 and structure question

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SunnySideUp

I've come across two things recently I'd like to ask. Can 突然 and 突然间 be used interchangeably or is there a (slight) difference in meaning?

And could someone enlighten me about this sentence, please:

你们是她什么人?

I think the general meaning is what kind of business do you guys have with her, but I don't understand the structure...Has something been omitted? The context is that two people are asking a third person about "her" at the door...

 

Thank you!

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Publius
58 minutes ago, SunnySideUp said:

Can 突然 and 突然间 be used interchangeably

Yes, I think so (except that 突然 can be used as an adjective to directly modify a noun, thus forming a rather compact noun phrase, e.g. 突然袭击, while 突然间 cannot).

 

58 minutes ago, SunnySideUp said:

你们是她什么人?

我们是她同事。 <-- Do you understand this sentence? (的 is dropped because of the closeness of the relationship.) The WH- question is formed by substituting the personal relationship term (同学/同事/亲戚/朋友/家人/邻居/etc) with a question word (什么人).

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SunnySideUp

Thanks, Publius. That's really helpful.

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Publius

You're welcome.

Now I realize this kind of question does not normally exist in English.

-- Person A: I'm her boyfriend.

-- Person B: You're her what? <-- 'what' is replaced by 什么人 in Chinese.

Correct me if I'm wrong. In English, B's question only makes sense following A's statement. Without a proper context, there are only three ways to turn a sentence like this into a special question:

'You are her boyfriend.'

1) Who is her boyfriend? (you)

2) Who are you? (her boyfriend)

3) Whose boyfriend are you? (her)

4) ??? (boyfriend)

While in Chinese, we have:

你是她男朋友。

1) 谁是她男朋友?(你)

2) 你是谁?(她男朋友)

3) 你是谁男朋友?(她)

4) 你是她什么人?(男朋友)

We all know guanxi is super important in China, right? Here you are, a special way to ask about it! :mrgreen:

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SunnySideUp

That's correct, Publius. I don't think anyone would ask "You're her what?" out of the blue. If people really had to know what kind of relationship they have, they would probably just ask "How do you know her?"

Thanks again!

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