Why Some Chinese Sentences do not Have a Subject?
In our free Chinese lessons, there are many sample sentences do not have subject in it. Such as:
|1||不客气||You are welcome||Lack of "you"|
|2||多少钱||How much is it?||Lack of "it"|
|3||太贵了||It's too expensive||Lack of "it"|
In the above table, no subjects exist in the Chinese sample sentences, which is different from the corresponding English translations with semantically clear-cut elements. In fact, it is common in Chinese sentences where some of them are lacking of subject while remain correct.
Reason for this Phenomenon
Compared to Chinese, English is a language with more strict rules and more literally coherent. The major sentence forming method in English is called "Hypotaxis", by which different sentences or separate components are organized and constructed by certain cohesive ties (connection words). Lacking of any component or connection word shall be deemed error.
Chinese is a language of lax rules and relatively logical coherence. Accordingly, the sentence making mode is called "Parataxis". Therefore, Sentences in Chinese do not rely so much on cohesive ties as English do. So we use subjects or conjunctive words freely.
Types of Subjectless Sentences
1. Elliptical sentences. According to semantics, the meaning of some words or speaker's will can be deduced from the dialogue context. In Chinese, when people are talking about something, one subject usually appears once throughout the dialog. For example:
A: "She is ill now."
She isin her house."
is her illness?"
It'snot very serious."
Meanwhile, subjects can be omitted when these sentences are under clear talking situation. Thus the subjects are implied from dialogs. For example:
I amgoing to have dinner."
A: "How much
is it?" (holding or pointing at something)
B: "10 Yuan."
Such sentences can be found on imperative sentences also:
Youtake it for your lunch."
Sometimes the subjects are not clear:
Let'shave a meeting."
2. Emphatic sentences. Sometimes the subjects are not important, and we just want to emphasize the actions or changes, for instance:
Experimenterelectrify the circuit, and check if there is any change."
The train isarriving at Chongqing."
We aredeeply implementing the Thought of the 19th National Congress of the Party."
Subjectless sentences appear frequently in Chinese, just because this language is not so restricted by definitive rules as English do. There are more interesting grammatical phenomena in our language. You will find more explanations for Chinese grammar included in our language lessons here.