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Lesson 7 – Advanced – The Chinese Contracted Sentence and Its Characteristics

There are many sorts of sentences pattern in Chinese language. Among the difficult sentences, the contracted sentence is important for students who study in China to learn.

In order to study Chinese better, we should first know what the contracted sentence is. The contracted sentence is a kind of sentence that to express contents of the compound sentence with the form of simple sentence.

We say “to express contracted sentence’s contents” because the predicate section of the contracted sentence should consist of two independent statements, which have the relationships of continuity, condition, concession and cause and effect. It may be a little difficult for students who learn Mandarin in China to understand. What’s more, two predicates of the contracted sentence are neither contain each other nor modify each other. The reason we say “the form of simple sentence” is that although the predicate sections of the contracted sentence composed of two predicates, they can’t be connected with the conjunctions like “虽然”, “但是”, “因为”, “所以”, etc. On the contrary, students learn Chinese in China should know that the two parts usually should be contracted as an entirety by using a pair of correlative adverb.

But you should pay attention to that there is no phonological pause between the two parts and no comma when written. So it looks like the predicate part of a simple sentence in form. Every Chinese school in China often uses the following examples to explain further:
① 站住,不站住就开枪了。
② 看得清楚才能对准。

The second clause in example ① is a contracted sentence. The words “不站住” and “开枪” are two predicates being connected as whole by the conjunction “就”, thus there is no pause in the sentence. Through analyzing, students can learn Mandarin better. In the sense of meaning, this sentence seems like a compound sentence indicating supposition. But there is no conjunction and comma to express the sentence meaning “站住!你要是不站住,我就开枪了”. The two phrases “看得清楚” and “能对得准” are predicates of example ②, connecting with conjunctive adverbs “才” as a whole without pause. It seems a compound sentence of conditional relation in meaning. With the same way, we can express the whole meaning “我们只有看得清楚,才能对的准” without any conjunction and comma.

Most contracted sentences can be expanded as compound sentences and express the meaning with the help of compound sentence grammar. However, students who learn to speak Chinese should know that not all contracted sentences can be expanded. For instance, it is not good to expand “我们的人越多越好” into “我们的人越多,我们越好”.

By using contracted sentences, the complicated thoughts can be expressed with very brief language. So it is helpful for students to learn Chinese language in China with contracted sentences. But the structure is limited and the construction is mostly fixed. That is to say, in Chinese language, contracted sentences are fixed sentence patterns formed in long-term experience and can’t be created willfully. In the following parts, we will discuss how to learn Mandarin by make differences between the contracted sentence, pivotal sentence and sentence with serial verbs. Because most contracted sentences are formed by connecting two predicates with conjunctions, we can tell them apart depends on whether there are conjunctions or not. For example, the sentence “他披上衣服走出门去” is a sentence with aerial verbs while the sentence “他披上皮袄还冷” is the contracted sentence.

However, for some sentences, even though there are two verbs and one adverb, it can’t be called contracted sentence because they have no interrelationship with each other. Let’s continue learning Mandarin Chinese by comparing some sentences. “过去!过去想也不敢想啊!” is a contracted sentence because here “也” is a conjunction indicating concession. However, “桐桐想了想也没回答出来” is not because “也” in this sentence means “also”.

We can also help students learning Mandarin Chinese to tell apart by meaning. Some sentences without conjunctions also can be contracted sentences because the two predicates have correlations. For example, “您年老体弱干不了这一行了” is contracted sentence which means “因为年老体弱,所以干不了这一行了”. After knowing the characteristics of the contracted sentences, students can tell them apart from other sentence patterns easily.

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