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Mandarin grammar construction: 是…的

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The 是…的 construction in Mandarin grammar is very useful to know. It's used to emphasize a particular detail in a sentence.

“是……的”是一个非常实用的汉语语法结构,用于强调句中特定的细节。

The 是…的 construction picks out one of the following kinds of information:

“是……的”结构强调以下信息:

• time

  时间

• manner

  方式

• place

  地点

The structure is common and pretty easy to use and understand.

这是个常见的结构,且易于理解与使用。

Forming a 是…的 sentence

以“是……的”造句

是 is placed right before the piece of information you want to draw attention to, and 的 comes at the end of the sentence. Whatever comes immediately after 是 is emphasized. This is equivalent to saying "It was …that …" in English (although English often just uses tone of voice to emphasize).

“是”放置于被强调的信息之前,“的”放在句末。紧跟“是”后面的内容则是被强调的部分。这个结构相当于英文中的“It was…that…”结构(虽然英文当中会经常用声调表示强调)。

Examples:

例句:

Tā shì zuótiān qù de.

她是昨天去的。 

It was yesterday that she went.

Wǒ shì gēn wǒ péngyǒu chūqù de.

我是跟我朋友出去的。

I went out with my friends.

Wǒ shì zài běijīng xuéxí zhōngwén de.

我是在北京学习中文的。

I studied Chinese in Beijing.

Emphasizing different parts of the sentence

强调句中不同的部分

是 can be placed at any one of three points in a sentence to draw attention to what comes after it. In the following sentence, for example:

“是”可以放在句中的任意位置,强调其后面的内容。例如:

Wǒ shàng gè xīngqíwǔ gēn wǒ nǚ péngyǒu zài fànguǎn chīfàn.

我上个星期五跟我女朋友在饭馆吃饭。 

Last Friday I ate dinner with my girlfriend in a restaurant.

Time, manner or place could be picked out with 是…的.

“是……的”结构可以用于强调时间、方式和地点。

Wǒ shì shàng gè xīngqíwǔ gēn wǒ nǚ péngyǒu zài fànguǎn chīfàn de.

我是上个星期五跟我女朋友在饭馆吃饭的。 

It was last Friday that I ate dinner with my girlfriend in a restaurant.

Wǒ shàng gè xīngqí wǔ shì gēn wǒ nǚ péngyǒu zài fànguǎn chīfàn de.

我上个星期五是跟我女朋友在饭馆吃饭的。 

It was with my girlfriend that I ate dinner in a restaurant last Friday.

Wǒ shàng gè xīngqí wǔ gēn wǒ nǚ péngyǒu shì zài fànguǎn chīfàn de.

我上个星期五跟我女朋友是在饭馆吃饭的。 

It was in a restaurant that I ate dinner last Friday with my girlfriend.

Note how in English this involves rearranging all the elements of the sentence, but in Chinese their position is fixed. All that's needed is to place 是 in front of the part to be emphasized, and 的 at the end of the sentence.

注意:英文例句当中,句子成分的位置需要重新调整,但是在中文例句当中,句子成分的位置则是固定的。只需把“是”放在被强调的部分之前,把“的”放在句末。

What you can emphasize with 是…的

“是……的”结构强调的对象

Broadly speaking, the 是 … 的 construction emphasizes time, manner or place. This covers a lot of uses though. Here are some examples:

通常来说,“是……的”结构可用于强调时间、方式和地点,其用法很多,比如:

Wǒ jīntiān shì kāichē shàngbān de.

我今天是开车上班的。

Today I came to work by car.

Wǒ shì yòng fǎwén xiě zhè fēng xìn de.

我是用法文写这封信的。

I wrote this letter in French.

Tā shì zài wǎngshàng fāxiàn zhège xìnxī de.

他是在网上发现这个信息的。 

He found out this information online.

Nàgè gùshì shì wǒ yéye gàosu wǒ de.

那个故事是我爷爷告诉我的。 

It was my grandfather that told me that story.

Tā shì duì wǒ gǎn xìngqù de.

他是对我感兴趣的。

He was interested in me.

You can draw attention to pretty much any information in the sentence using 是…的.

“是……的”结构,几乎可以强调句中的任何信息。

Forming questions with 是…的

用“是……的”提问

You can also form questions with the 是 … 的 construction. This is done in the usual ways to form questions:

通过如下几种常见的方法,“是……的”结构也可用于提问。

•With 吗

加“吗”

•With a question word

加疑问词

•With verb / negative inversion

动词或否定倒装

Examples:

例句:

Nǐ nèitiān shì qù lúndūn de ma?

你那天是去伦敦的吗? 

Did you go to London that day?

 

Tā shì gěi shéi dǎ diànhuà de?

他是给谁打电话的?

Who was it that he phoned?

Wǒ shì bù shì wǔ yuè chūshēng de?

我是不是五月出生的? 

Was it in May that I was born?

Note that with the 吗 question, 吗 comes at the end of the sentence as usual, with 的 just before it.

注意:在带“吗”的问句中, “吗”还是放在句末,而“的”则放在“吗”之前。

The negative form of 是 … 的

“是 … 的”结构的否定形式

是 … 的 is negated as you would expect, with 不. This is used to draw attention to the fact that something is _not _the case.

如你所想到的,“是……的” 通过“不”构成否定结构,用于强调某事不是那样的。

Examples:

例句:

Wǒmen búshì zài bālí rènshi de.

我们不是在巴黎认识的。

It wasn't in Paris that we met.

Wǒ de qiánbāo búshì bèi tā tōu zǒu de.

我的钱包不是被他偷走的。 

My wallet wasn't stolen by him.

是…的 implies completion

“是……的”暗指动作已完成

Because 是…的 emphasizes the details around an action, there is an implication that the action has been completed (so that we can know the details). However, this is just an implication, and not the main function of this construction. 是…的 is used to draw attention to extra details of an action, not to indicate its completion. 了 should be used to mark completion.

因为“是……的”是强调某个动作的相关细节,言外之意,那个动作已经完成(这样我们才能知道细节)。但这只是暗含的意思,并非这个结构的主要功能。“是……的”用于强调某个动作的细节,并不是为了表示该动作已完成。表示某个动作完成,可以用“了”

Moving 的

变动“的”的位置

Normally, 的 is placed at the end of the sentence in a 是 … 的 construction, and this is fine most of the time. However, it can also be placed before the object. The only time this is necessary is when the 是 … 的 construction would result in a sentence with another meaning to the one intended. For example:

在“是……的”结构中,“的”通常放在句末。然而,它也可以放在宾语之前,但仅限用于会引起歧义的句子。例如:

Wǒ shì zài wǎngshàng mài yīfu de.

我是在网上卖衣服的。 

I sell clothing online.

Rather than emphasizing that the clothes are sold online, this sentence ends up saying that the speaker is some sort of online clothing merchant. To avoid this misinterpretation, 的 can be placed before the object:

该例句中,讲话者强调自己是网上卖衣服的商家,而不是强调衣服是在网上卖的。为了避免歧义,“的”可以放在宾语之前:

Wǒ shì zài wǎngshàng mài de yīfú.

我是在网上卖的衣服。

It was online that I sold the clothes.

Now the sentence has the intended meaning (that the speaker sold some clothes on Taobao or something). The sentence above about studying in Beijing is actually ambiguous for this reason:

这样才明确地传达了说话者意图表达的意思(说话者是在淘宝等类似的网站上卖衣服的)。关于在北京学习的那个句子意思也很模糊,因为:

Wǒ shì zài běijīng xuéxí zhōngwén de.

我是在北京学习中文的。

I studied Chinese in Beijing.

This could just as well be translated as "I study Chinese in Beijing", with no emphasis. To avoid this, 的 can be placed in front of the object:

这句话可以翻译为“I study Chinese in Beijing”,没有任何强调作用。为了避免出现这种情况,“的”可以放在宾语之前。

Wǒ shì zài běijīng xué de zhōngwén.

我是在北京学的中文。 

It was in Beijing that I studied Chinese.

Now the emphasis is clear.

这样,强调的对象就很明显了。

This situation only comes up occasionally though, so most of the time it's fine to put 的 at the end of the sentence (although you often see it placed before the object anyway).

这种情况偶尔会出现,大部分时候,“的”还是放在句末(虽然,你可能经常看到它放在宾语之前)。

Omitting 是

省略“是”

One final thing to note is that sometimes 是 can actually be omitted and the structure is still valid. This can't happen all the time, though. If the subject is a demonstrative pronoun (这 or 那), you have to include 是. If the sentence is negative, you also need 是 (it would sound pretty strange without it). Otherwise, 是 can generally be omitted and the sentence is still valid.

最后需要注意的一点就是有时“是”可以省略,句子结构仍然成立。但“是”不是在任何情况下都可以省略的。如果主语是指示代词(“这”或“那”),“是”不能省略。否定句中,“是”也不能省略。除此之外,“是”通常都可以省略,而句子在语法上仍然成立。

If the sentence is complicated with many parts (e.g. time, manner and place) then 是 will need to be inserted to clarify what's being emphasized.

对于由多个句子成分组成的复杂句(例如:时间,方式和地点),应当加上“是”,用于表明强调的是哪个部分。

Not everything with 是 and 的 is a 是…的 construction!

不是所有包含“是”和“的”的句子都属于“是……的”结构。

Remember that just because a sentence uses 是 and 的 doesn't mean it's emphasizing something. Far from it, in fact. 是 and 的 are a very common way to attach attributes to things. For example:

切记:并不是所有有“是”和“的”的句子都是起强调作用。“是”和“的”也常用于描述某个事物的属性。例如

Zhè liàng chē shì hóngsè de.

这辆车是红色的。 

This car is red.

The sentence above is not 'a 是…的 construction' as described in this article. It's just a bog-standard descriptive sentence. The 是…的 construction emphasizes additional information about an action rather than just modifying things.

以上例句就不属于本文中提到的“是……的”结构。这只是一个普通的陈述句。“是……的”结构的作用是强调,而不是修饰某个事物。

Summary

结论:

• 是 is placed before the part of the sentence you want to emphasize.

“是”放置于被强调的部分之前。

• 的 is nearly always placed at the end of the sentence. Sometimes it appears before the object.

“的”通常放于句末,但有时候也放于宾语之前。

• All the usual question formations can be applied to 是…的 sentences.

“是…….的”结构可用于所有常见的问句。

• 是…的 is negated with 不.

“是……的”通过“不”构成否定形式。

• 是…的 implies completion of the action.

“是……的”暗指动作已经完成。

• 是 can be omitted in some circumstances.

在某些情况下“是”可以省略。

2016-06-21

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