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Chinese pivotal sentence

This time, we are going to talk about '兼语句' (Jiānyǔjù), Pivotal sentence, which is a special structure that plays an important role in Chinese. I believe many learners willhave or have had trouble while working with it. So, here I'll give it a brief introduction.

Well, WHY we should know what a Pivotal sentence is? Because that's something we meet when studying Chinese, even in the primary stage. It has both an Information Function and Aesthetic Function. Actually, if talking with native speakers, you'll find out Chinese people use it more often in oral communication.

Now that 'What is a Pivotal sentence?' To start, let's look at following sentence

Wǒ jiào mèimei chī wǔfàn.


I ask my younger sister to have lunch.

According to the sentence above, we can find out a structure which is:


Noun1+Verb1+Noun2+Verb2+Other elements

So simply to say, Pivotal sentence has the form of '(Noun1+Verb1+[Noun2)+Verb2+Other elements]', and Noun2(more precisely, Nominal element2) is the Object of the Verb1, and the logical subject of the Verb2. Among Pivotal sentences, there still exist different types according to what Verb1 and Verb2 are, so here, with limited time and space, two basic structures will be introduced.

Structure1:  Noun1+让/叫/派/请…+Noun2+Verb2+ (other elements)


Gōnɡsī pài wǒ chūɡuó.


The firm assigned me to go abroad.

Wǒde hǎopénɡyou qǐnɡ wǒ qù Běijīnɡ.


My best friend invited me to Beijing.


1. To express 'Noun1 asks or requests Noun2' to do something. In this case, Verb1 should be '请'、'派'、'要求'etc.


Wǒ yāoqiú tā qù shuìjiào.


I asked him to go to sleep.

2. To express 'Noun1 allows Noun2' to do something. In this case, Verb1 should be '同意' etc.


Xuéxiào tónɡyì wǒmen qù ɡōnɡyuán.


The school allowed us to go to park.

The negative form:

Noun1+不/没(没有)+让/叫/派/请…+Noun2+Verb2+(other elements)


Lǎoshī méi jiào/rànɡ wǒ jiāo zuòyè.


The teacher didn't ask me to hand in homework.

Māmɑ bù tónɡyì wǒ qù Chénɡdū.


Mam don't allow me to go to Chengdu.

Structure 2: Noun1+让/叫/使…+Noun2+Verb2/Adj.


Zhèjiànshì rànɡ/jiào/shǐ wǒ bù ɡāoxìnɡ.


This thing makes me unhappy.

Tādehuà rànɡ/shǐ mèimei juédìnɡ qù ɡōnɡzuò.


His words make his young sister decide to work.


It differs from Structure 1 in that in this case, Noun1 is the reason for Noun2 to do something or change, not Noun1 asks or orders Noun2 to do something of Structure1.

When the place of Verb2 is Adjective, there are usually no other elements following the Adjective; however, if it's a Verb, there could be other elements that follow.

The negative form of it is complex, and it depends on the meaning of the whole sentence. We will illustrate it in the future.

Source: digmandarin


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