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LEARN CHINESE: CHINESE GRAMMAR

Word

1. What is Word

Word (词) is the smallest grammatical unit which can use independently. 'Use Independetly' means it can either make a sentence by itself or work independently as a structural constituent of a sentence. For example, in this sentence '他又来了.' '他', '又', '来' and '了' call all use independently, they are all words.

A free morpheme can be a word or occur with another free morpheme to be a word; half-bound and bound morphemes can not make words themselves, but can do when use with other morphemes (free, half-bound or bound one/ones). To distinguish between a morpheme and a word, you need to judge whether it is can be used independetly; to distinguish between a word and a compound, you need to judge wether it is the smallest unit.

2. Word Structure

A word is formed of one or more morphemes, among these morphemes, the one which shows its basic meaning is called the root (词根) and the other one attached to the root is called the affix (词缀), for example, '刀子', '刀' is the root, and '子' is the affix. Not all words have affixes, in most cases, words have more than one roots, such as '纸张', '国家' and '月亮', etc.

One-morpheme words are called Simplex Words (单纯词); Words, which are formed of more than one morphemes, are called Composite Words (合成词).

1). Simplex Word -单纯词

a. Monosyllabic Word -单音节单纯词
examples: 天

b. Polysyllabic Word -多音节单纯词, most of which are bisyllabic words.

a). Double-Initial-Consonant Words -双声词, which have the same initial consonants:
e.g. 仿佛 - fǎng fú 忐忑 - tǎn tè 参差 -cēn cī 蜘蛛 - zhī zhū

b). Double-Final-Sound Words - 叠韵词, which have the same final sounds:
e.g. 烂漫 - làn màn 从容 - cóng róng 逍遥 - xiāo yáo
哆嗦 - duō suō

c). Reduplications -叠音词, which have two same sounds:
e.g. 猩猩 -xīng xing 往往 - wǎng wǎng 悄悄 - qiāo qiāo

d). Transliterations -音译外来词
e.g. 咖啡 - kā fēi 沙发 - shā fā 巧克力 - qiǎo kè lì

e). others
e.g. 蝴蝶 - hú dié 蝙蝠 - biān fú

2). Composite Words -合成词
Based on the relationship between its two root morphemes, the structure of a composite word can be one of the followings:

a. Subject-Predication - 主谓型. The former root is a subject and the latter one states the subject.
e.g. 地震 年轻 心酸 空调

b. Verb-Object - 动宾型 or 述宾型. The former root expresses a certain action and the latter one is the objert of the action.
e.g. 举重 美容 承包 挂钩

c. Modification - 偏正型. The former root modifies the latter one.
e.g. 气功 冰箱 笔直 火红

d. Complement - 补充型. The latter root complements or explains the former one.
e.g. 提高 推广 立正 改进

e. Coordination -联合型 or 并列型. Two roots have the same, similiar, related or opposite meanings.
e.g. same meanings: 价值 改革 寒冷 组装;
related meangings: 骨肉 风浪 门户 方圆
opposite meanings: 忘记 动静 干净 好歹

f. Reduplication - 重叠式. One root repeats itself.
e.g. 姐姐 哥哥 偏偏 仅仅 刚刚

When there are affixes, it is:

g. Affixed - 附加式. There are two kinds of affixed words:

a). affix - root: 老虎 老乡 老外 小李 第一 阿姨
b). root - affix: 刀子 胖子 石头 苦头 花儿 作者 读者

3. Word Type
Based on the grammatical funtions, words can be defined as Content Words or Full Words (实词) and Function Words or Empty Words (虚词).

1). Full words - 实词.
Full words have real meanings and can work as sentence constituents. Based on its grammatical funtions, a full word can be one of the followings:

a. Noun - 名词
e.g. 中国 车辆 秋天 星期天 中间

b. Verb - 动词
e.g. 走 回来 能够

c. Adjective - 形容词
e.g. 勇敢 多少 轻松

d. Numeral - 数词
e.g. 五 亿

e. Measure Word - 量词
e.g. 尺

f. Pronoun - 代词
e.g. 我 你们 哪里 怎么样

g. Adverb - 副词
e.g. 很 已经 必须 特意 难道

h. Onomatopoeia Word - 象声词
e.g. 呼呼 叮当 哗哗 轰隆

i. Exclamation - 叹词
e.g. 啊 哎呀

2). Empty Words - 虚词 .

a. Preposition - 介词
e.g. 从 在于 按照 由于 对于除了

b. Particle - 助词
e.g. 的 似的

c. Conjunction - 连词
e.g. 和 而且 不但 因此

 

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