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wrbt

Can someone give me a quick summary of "zhi" (the one that looks like a Z with a little hat on) and what it's for? I get that it's similar to possessive "de" but what are examples of usage and what makes it different than de?

Thanks

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mlomker

You've piqued my curiousity, because I'm not sure what you're talking about. I assume by 'hat' that you mean that it's third tone (the sound dips and then goes back up)?

One of the problems with pinyin is that there are multiple characters represented by the same sound, so it's probably best to provide a sample sentence.

I've mostly used zhi3 to mean 'only' or 'paper'. 只 or 纸

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adrianlondon

I don't think he means 只. I guess it's 之 which just means "of". Yeah, like "de" but I think it's only used in older texts or where it looks good. Someone else, who's not a beginner in the language like me, can hopefully give a more scientific answer.

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wrbt

Yes indeed that's the "zhi" in question.

It's one of my problem words in that when I hear it my ears can never catch it for what it is and I get confused. I've heard it on chinesepod a few times now:

之一 one of

之内 within

之前 prior to

It seems my textbooks don't cover it though so I'm somewhat curious of it, like if it's just common in certain phrases or regionally or what have you.

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sissi
I guess it's 之 which just means "of".

Quite right.:D

之一:She if one of the clearest students.她是最聪明的学生之一

之内:I will arrive within two days,我在两天之内到达

之前:Prior to my entering into collage,在我上大学之前

I think "在XX的YY" will be a general explaination.I give three sentence below,and color the XXs red,YYs purple.

用在定语后,表示定语和中心词之间的领属关系 [of,'s]。

de(的)is also a auxiliary word which is used after the attributive words to modify the headword.

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novemberfog

elina,

do you know if there is a traditional character version of that book? Is it simplified only?

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roddy

The simple rule of thumb is that 之 = 的, except when it's in a fixed expression (which is quite often) in which case the fixed expression means whatever it means and you don't need to worry much about the 之.

总是满口之乎者也,教人半懂不懂的 :wink:

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elina

novemberfog,

That book only has simplified Chinese version. If you need such a book with Traditional Chinese, I think semantic nuance might have a clue.

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nipponman

Also, I remember learning that you can't use之 as 的 (unless it is a fixed expression) unless there are multple 的's. And then you use 之 for every的 but the last one. Did I get that right?

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anonymoose
之一:She is one of the clearest students.她是最聪明的学生之一

I used this sentence a few times whilst I was an English teacher in China. For some reason, Chinese people always thought it was a strange thing to say. I didn't quite understand why this was the case, but they said I shouldn't say 之一 at the end. Perhaps it is too formal for spoken chinese. Can any native Chinese speakers shed more light on the matter?

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L-F-J
[qb]Also, I remember learning that you can't use之 as 的 (unless it is a fixed expression) unless there are multple 的's. And then you use 之 for every的 but the last one. Did I get that right?[/qb]

I haven't heard that. Usually you can just leave out all the 的's but one. More than one in a sentence is kind of unnatural. I don't know why putting a bunch of 之's would make it any more natural.

之 is used in classical Chinese very differently from modern usages. As 的 it's used mostly in expressions with four characters, such as 感谢之情 or anything similar with four characters, although it's not a rule. It's mostly used in 书面语 shu1 mian4 yu3 and 成语 cheng2 yu3, so I wouldn't worry about it if you're learning modern Chinese. Just be familiar with this usages if you come across it.

之 used in 之一, 之内 and 之前, etc. is of different usage because it doesn't replace 的.

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elina
Quote:

之一:She is one of the clearest students.她是最聪明的学生之一

I used this sentence a few times whilst I was an English teacher in China. For some reason' date=' Chinese people always thought it was a strange thing to say. I didn't quite understand why this was the case, but they said I shouldn't say 之一 at the end. Perhaps it is too formal for spoken chinese. Can any native Chinese speakers shed more light on the matter?[/quote']

I FEEL:

她是最聪明的几个学生之一 is more natural than 她是最聪明的学生之一, but I cannot explain the Chinese grammar, because my 语文 is not very good.

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charlescpp

i tihnk both are natural and the latter one is more formal.

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Lu
之 used in 之一, 之内 and 之前, etc. is of different usage because it doesn't replace 的.
I think it does.

之一 = 的一个

之内 = 的里面 (ok this is not correct Chinese, but I hope you see my point)

之前 = 的以前

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L-F-J

It doesn't replace 的 directly in the sentence without changing something. So the usage is different.

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Jose

之 is a function word that is very usual in classical Chinese. In the modern language, it survives mainly in fixed expressions and idioms, so you should use it wIth caution.

In order to understand the logic in the expressions where it appears, it is good to know its three main usages in classical Chinese:

1. A possessive marker, the equivalent of 的 in modern Chinese.

Example: 吾之名 ("my name", modern: 我的名字)

This is the origin of its use in fixed expressions like 之內, 之間, 之際, 之前 and 之後. It has also been retained in the modern language to express numerical fractions, as in 四分之三 (three fourths) or 百分之八 (8%). Related to this latter usage is the 之一 expression for "one of", mentioned in some of the previous posts.

I think Nipponman is right that you can freely substitute 之 for 的 if there are several 的 in one sentence, but only in very formal styles of writing. In general, it is better to use 之 only in fixed expressions you have come across before. For example, it is common, in formal written style, to use [place name]之行 for "a trip to [place name]" or [...]之美 for "the beauty of [...]".

2. A third person pronoun, used only as the object of a verb (like English him, her, it, them).

Example: 吾知之 = I know (it).

Note that modern Mandarin, like English, does not tend to use a pronoun in these cases, so this example would usually be translated as 我知道 rather than 我知道它, in the modern language. The use of this pronoun in classical texts seems to be very common, and the fact that it is only used as an object seems to be a remnant of an older preclassical case system in Chinese pronouns.

This use occasionally crops up in some idioms and expressions in the modern language, like 總之 ("to sum up", literally "to summarise it") or (same meaning, literally "to summarise and say it")

3. A verb meaning "to go to".

This usage is much less common and I don't know of any modern expression where it has been retained. For an example in the classical language, see this lesson in this online version of Language of the Dragon, a course in classical Chinese.

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wrbt

Also:

"百分之八"

Excellent! Perfect example of how naive I am... I've know how to say percentages in Chinese but have never realized it was that 之, for some reason I assumed it was 只 since that kind of made sense 100 parts only 8 etc.

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