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.
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 + Number + Measure Word + Object
- wǒ zài tóngshì jiā chī le yí dùn fàn
I ate meal (for) one "dun" at (my) coworker's home.
- tā jiē le liǎngcì diànhuà
He answer the phone call (for) two "ci".
- wǒmen tī le sān chǎng bǐsài
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 + Number + Measure Word
- tā xiào le wǒ liǎng cì
He laughed at me (for) two "ci".
- wǒ jīntiān lái le zhèlǐ sān cì
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 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
- wǒ hái kěyǐ děng liǎngtiān
I additional can wait (for) two days.
- háizi kū le shī fēnzhōng
The child cried (for) 10 minutes.
(2) With Object
Subject + Verb + Object + Verb+ time duration
- wǒ děng xiàozhǎng děng le liǎng ge xiǎoshí
I waited (for) the school principal waited (for) two hours.
- tā xué Hànyǔ xué le sān nián le
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
- tóngshì liǎng nián méi chī ròu le
The coworker did not eat meat (for) two years (already). - A FACT
- tóngshì liǎng nián bú chī ròu le
The coworker does not eat meat (for) two years (already). - A DECISION