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Level 2 Lesson 17.1 – They Waited For 20 Minutes.

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Times of Action in Chinese -  Complement of Frequency | Duration of Actions in Chinese - Complement of Time-Measurement

In today's video lesson we’ll learn how to express Times of Actions in Chinese - to do something for how many times, and Duration of Actions in Chinese - to do something for how long.

  • Times of Action in Chinese - Complement of Frequency (I). See also (II) and (III).
  • Duration of Actions in Chinese - Complement of Time-Measurement (also known as Complement of Time-Duration) (I). See also (II).

VOCABULARY


GRAMMAR


Grammar 1: Times of Action in Chinese · HSK 2

We’ve learned a few Measure Words to say how many times an action is done already. For actions in general, we use 次(cì), for watching the full length of games, performances, it’s 场(chǎng) and for having meals, it’s 顿(dùn).

So if we want to say to do something for how many times, we can follow this sentence structure:

Subject + Verb + NumberMeasure Word + Object

For example,

  • wǒ zài tóngshì jiā chī le yí dùn fàn
    我在同事家吃了一顿饭。
    I ate meal (for) one "dun" at (my) coworker's home.
  • tā jiē le liǎngcì diànhuà
    他接了两次电话。
    He answer the phone call (for) two "ci".
  • wǒmen tī le sān chǎng bǐsài
    我们踢了三场比赛。
    We played game (for) three "chang".

 

However, if the Object is a Pronoun, it it should be put right after the verb.

Subject + Verb + Object: Pronoun + NumberMeasure Word

For example,

  • tā xiào le wǒ liǎng cì
    他笑了我两次。
    He laughed at me (for) two "ci".
  • wǒ jīntiān lái le zhèlǐ sān cì
    我今天来了这里三次。
    I came here (for) three "ci" today.

And the number plus the Measure Word here is the Complement of the Verb. And this type of Complement is called Complement of Frequency, 动量补语, literally, action, amount, complement. It tells us for how many times an action has been done.

 

Grammar 2: Duration of Actions in Chinese · HSK 2

To express Duration of Actions in Chinese - to do something for how long, there can be two types of structures depending on whether the Verb Predicate has an Object.

The Time Duration in the following sentences is also the Complement 补语 of the Verb. It’s called Complement of Time-Measurement, or, Complement of Time-Duration, 时量补语, literally, Time, Amount, Complement. A 时量补语 tells us for how long an action has been done.

(1) Without Object

Subject + Verb + time duration 

For example,

  • wǒ hái kěyǐ děng liǎngtiān
    我还可以等两天。
    I additional can wait (for) two days.
  • háizi kū le shī fēnzhōng
    孩子哭了 十分钟。
    The child cried (for) 10 minutes.

(2) With Object

Subject + Verb + Object + Verb+ time duration 

For example,

  • wǒ děng xiàozhǎng děng le liǎng ge xiǎoshí
    我等校长等了两个小时。
    I waited (for) the school principal waited (for) two hours.
  • tā xué Hànyǔ xué le sān nián le
    他学汉语学了三年了。
    He learns Chinese learns (for) three years (already).

 

For negative sentences that needs to have time duration-how long involved, we can use both没/没有 and 不, but the meanings are a little bit different. (See also Comparison between 没 and 不)

Generally, if we use没, the negation is an objective fact. While if we use不, the negation is subjective and suggests people’s will or judgement.

The structure goes like this:

Subject + time duration + 不/没(有) + Verb + Object

For example,

  • tóngshì liǎng nián méi chī ròu le
    同事两年没吃肉了。
    The coworker did not eat meat (for) two years (already). - A FACT
  • tóngshì liǎng nián bú chī ròu le
    同事两年不吃肉了。
    The coworker does not eat meat (for) two years (already). - A DECISION
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