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Glossary Affirmative–negative question A question that is seeking an answer of either yes or no. Aspect There are no tenses in Chinese; instead, there are aspects, which indicate the stages of an event, such as progression, continuation and completion. Attributive A constituent in a sentence that appears before the noun to modify it. For example, in the sentence 㠩㥸㔶㱸㮥⢔ ㊱⼍☨ㇲ㈷㱹 ( Wáng xiAnsheng yNu yí ge piàoliàng de nY péngyNu: ‘Mr Wang has a pretty girlfriend’), ㊱⼍ is an adjective that is used attributively, and it is the attributive. Auxiliary verb An auxiliary verb is used to indicate desire, wishes, obligation, assumption, possibility, ability, permission, etc. It is followed by a verb. An auxiliary verb is also called a modal verb. Comment See topic–comment structure. Complement (In Chinese) A word that appears after a verb or an adjective to complete or expand the meaning of the verb or adjective. Complex sentence A complex sentence includes a subordinate (dependent) clause and the main (independent) clause. In Chinese, the subordinate clause appears before the main clause. Definiteness A noun or noun phrase that has been mentioned before or whose existence/identity is known to people engaged in the communication is considered to be ‘definite’. See also indefiniteness. Degree adverb An adverb that specifies the intensity (or degree) of an adjective or another adverb; for example, ⧶ (hLn: ‘very’), ➧⒋ (fBicháng: ‘extremely’), 㦐☕ (xiAngdAng: ‘quite’). Dependent clause See subordinate clause. Direct object Certain verbs such as ⢖ (gLi: ‘to give’), ⢄㚗 (gàosù: ‘to tell’), Ⱐ ( jiAo: ‘to teach’) can have two objects, a ‘person’ and a ‘thing’. The ‘thing’ is the direct object and the ‘person’ is the indirect object. In Chinese, the indirect object follows the verb and the direct object follows the indirect object. Disyllabic A two-character word is disyllabic. See also monosyllabic. Indefiniteness A noun or noun phrase is ‘indefinite’ when no one engaged in the communication knows about its identity or when only the speaker knows about its identity. See also definiteness. Glossary ix Independent clause See main clause. Indirect object See direct object. Interlocutor A participant in a conversation or communication. Interrogative pronoun Interrogative pronouns in Chinese are similar to the wh-words in English. In Chinese, besides being used to ask questions, interrogative pronouns can be used to make statements as well. Main clause or main sentence The clause in a complex sentence that is complete in meaning. It can function independently without a subordinate clause. See also subordinate clause. Measure word A word that appears after a number, 㸆 (zhè: ‘this’), ㅍ (nà: ‘that’), ㅊ (nK: ‘which’), ⭎ ( jM: ‘how many’) or ょ (mLi: ‘every’) and before a noun. With rare exceptions, the use of the measure word is not optional. Modal particle A particle that is used at the end of a sentence to express certain moods. Also called a sentential particle since it appears at the end of a sentence. Modal verb See auxiliary verb. Monosyllabic In Chinese, each character has one syllable. A one-character word is monosyllabic. Non-subject–predicate construction A sentence that does not have either a subject or a predicate. Object pre-position When the object in a sentence is definite, it can be placed at the beginning of the sentence or before the verb. Such an object is called a pre-posed object. Particle A character with grammatical or pragmatic functions but without a clear definition; for example: ⿺ (ma) is a modal particle; ⼗ (le) is both a perfective aspect particle and a modal particle. Passive structure A grammatical construction in which the subject is the recipient of the action indicated by the verb, not the performer of the action. Placement verb A verb that is not used to indicate an action but is used to indicate someone or something being in a state of rest as the result of that action. For example, 㨢 indicates an action in 㚳㵀㺟㔋㨢⼗㑻⢔㽶 (TA zài zhM shàng xiL le sAn ge zì: ‘He wrote three characters on the paper’), but is used as a placement verb in 㺟㔋㨢㽥㑻⢔㽶 (ZhM shàng xiL zhe sAn ge zì: ‘Three characters were written on the paper’). Predicate What is being said about the subject of the sentence. It should be noted that it is possible for a Chinese sentence not to have a subject or a predicate. Pre-existent in the context A noun or a situation whose existence is known by the people engaged in the conversation or communication is considered to be ‘pre-existent in the context’. x Glossary Relative clause A sentence or a phrase (containing a verb) that is used to modify a noun. In Chinese, a relative clause appears before the noun it modifies. Sentential particle See modal particle. Sentential subject The subject of a sentence that is itself a complete sentence. Subject What or whom a sentence is about. Subject–predicate construction A sentence that is composed of a subject and a predicate that follows the subject. Subordinate clause Also called a dependent clause. It is part of a complex sentence and is not complete in meaning. Therefore, it cannot function independently. In Chinese, a subordinate clause appears before the main clause. Time phrase A word or phrase that indicates when an action occurs. Topic–comment structure A sentence of which the predicate is one or more complete sentences. The subject in such a sentence is referred to as the topic, and the predicate is the comment.