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PDF Editor FAQ
Is “mother” a proper noun or a common noun?
“Mother” can be either a proper noun or a common noun, depending on the context. There are two examples here:My mother is beautiful.Thank you for this beautiful present, Mother.Then, how can we determine whether “mother” in each sentence is a common noun or a proper noun?In the first sentence, “mother” is a common noun, because there is a possessive pronoun “my”, which indicates “mother” belongs to me.**Besides, if there is an article before “mother” (she will be a mother), “mother” will be a common noun.Meanwhile, in the second sentence it is a proper noun, as its initial is capitalized.
What are strengths and weaknesses of the Chinese language?
Strengthsmost common words are only one or two characters (syllables) longmost two character words are made up of two or three characters that describe or are related to the word they are used in. This has several advantages:once you know enough characters, it's easy to learn new words, as they will be made up of different combinations of the same characters you knowit's easier to remember words as they "make sense" in simpler ways than English. For example, refrigerator is 冰箱 , which is ice + box/chest, computer is 电脑 (electricity + brain) parking lot is 停车场 (stop + car + place), airport is 飞机场 (fly + machine + place), etc. Yes, English has compound words as well, fireman, etc., but not nearly as many as Chinese nor is the connection always as straightforward.many words can function as a noun, verb, adjective or adverb without changing the form of the word (as in English - inspire, inspired, inspiration, inspirational, etc.), or by adding a modifier character after it (in the case of an adjective/adverb)no conjugation of verbs (English, French, Spanish, etc.) or declension of nouns (Latin, Russian)! (A caveat to this is that an additional character is sometimes added to a verb to indicate a change in state 了, something that occurred in the past 过; there are other modifiers. When to use or not use 了 in particular is very complicated.)Weaknessesspoken modern Chinese has very few syllables compared with English. 416 (Zhuyin, Hanyu Pinyin, and Tongyong Pinyin Cross-Reference Table) compared with 15831 (Page on Nyu)! Tones are used to compensate for this, but even with those, the total is a fraction of English. Plus people don't pronounce the tones clearly in everyday speech. This means that many many words sound very similar or even identical. Also certain syllables are used for a large number of words (various forms of "ji", "shi", "jian", "jiao" etc.) Some consonants are also quite similar (zh and j, x and sh, q and ch); they are easy to distinguish when enunciating clearly but that's now how your average person on the street speaks, especially when you factor in regional accents. So understanding people's speech is the biggest challenge. It's even difficult for native Chinese sometimes if they're from different provinces (and I'm not talking about different dialects, but simply other pronunciations of standard Mandarin, or 普通话). This is why despite the characters being fairly complicated, reading Chinese is actually easier than listening to it.Chinese is a language where syllables are represented by characters. However, in practice, one syllable can be represented by many different characters (even with the same tone). There's a famous poem where the entire poem is represented by the sound "shi" represented by different characters. To make things more difficult, a particular character can be pronounced in different ways with different meanings (了can be "le", "liao").Like English, some characters/words have many different meanings, especially when combined with other characters (basically forming new words). It can be difficult to know which meaning of a character/word is intended without context.Proper nouns are not capitalised. And unlike English, where many proper nouns are uniquely proper nouns, proper nouns in Chinese are all made up of "non-proper noun" words. This makes it difficult for someone learning Chinese to know whether a particular word that was spoken or written is some proper noun that you don't know, or a combination of other words. Of course with the proper context it becomes clear, but in Chinese, more than any other language, context is everything.No spaces between words. Because each character that is part of a word can also be a word on its own, no spaces between words means you have to determine whether the character you see forms a word with the next character or two, or represents a word by itself. Again, context is key. We don't face this in English, even if spaces were removed, because each syllable of a word cannot form a word on its own (remember is a word, but "re" "mem" and "ber" are not).writing Chinese characters is difficult to remember (much more so than reading) and requires lots of practice; this is especially true today when most people use computers/phones and don't write much by hand anymore. They use pinyin (romanized alphabet) to type and then select the correct character. This means that even people with a college degree have a hard time remembering how to write characters they don't use often.Update:two character adjectives, adverbs and verbs are sometimes/often reduced to one character in everyday casual speech. You might have learned in the dictionary that 睡觉 is the verb to sleep. But 睡 can also be used by itself to mean "sleep" (in fact 觉 also means "sleep" except that it has many other meanings, not to mention another sound "jue", and about 100 characters that share that sound). Because 睡 shares the same sound as other characters, if you hear it spoken in a sentence without 觉 you have to figure out if it means "sleep" in that context or another word. Basically deciphering Chinese takes really paying attention to context, and a lot of computing power :)
Can we regard a possessive pronoun as an adjective?
In English, not really.Possessives (whether they be pronominal or nominal) are a type of determiner.A determiner includes the words traditionally called “articles” but is a bit broader and the term is preferred by most linguists to “article.”¹ In English, determiners are generally required for non-proper noun phrases (“NPs”) (with two limited exceptions²). Determiners are often the “articles,” but a bit of observation reveals that “demonstratives,” possessives, and numbers also behave like determiners for the most part.E.g. *“I saw cat.” Cat is a countable noun and you cannot use it in a NP without a determiner.Likewise *”I saw black cat.”You must say “I saw the cat” or “I saw a cat.” But notice: “I saw her cat” is fine. In this respect the possessive is clearly not behaving the same way as the adjective.Normally a NP cannot have more than one determiner (with the exception that numbers can co-exist with other determiners on occasion).³*“The that cat likes me.”*“The Mary’s cat likes me.”However, NPs with adjectives are not excused from the determiner rule.*“Black cat watched me.”“The black cat watched me.”Possessives act most like demonstratives,⁴ and consequently displace “articles”:“Mary’s cat likes me.”There is little or no difference between the grammar of a possessive pronoun and a possessive noun.⁵ I cannot off the top of my head think of a way in which there’s a material difference—the traditional grammar notion that a pronoun replaces its referent noun is an adequate explanation for me.P.S.: To address the now-deleted question details, which asked after this situation:I saw some English use “a two-week holiday” to describe "two weeks’ holiday.” Can we use “a two weeks’ holiday”? Is this right? Thank you and waiting for your answer.“A two weeks’ holiday” sounds odd. Treating “two weeks’” as a possessive, it eliminates the need for any other determiner with “holiday,” and while the noun “weeks” could indeed take its own determiner (which is “two”; on which the “null indefinite plural” might be considered stacked, see note 3—“a” is not going to work, it’s singular), this use of “two weeks” is more akin to a noun modifier. For this reason the phrase “two-week holiday” is somewhat preferable.⁶Notes:¹ “Determiner” is defined by the dictionary as “a modifying word that determines the kind of reference a noun or noun group has.” The authors of the Wikipedia article on the term expound:That is, a determiner may indicate whether the noun is referring to a definite or indefinite element of a class, to a closer or more distant element, to an element belonging to a specified person or thing, to a particular number or quantity, etc. Common kinds of determiners include definite and indefinite articles (like the English the and a or an), demonstratives (this and that), possessive determiners (my and their), quantifiers (many, few and several), numerals, distributive determiners (each, any), and interrogative determiners (which).² To wit, the indefinite plural (which might also be analysed as a null determiner), e.g. “Squirrels live in trees,” and the “uncountable noun,” e.g. “I don’t like math”; “He was drinking beer.” See also this answer.³ I suppose it’s, in this light, arguable whether numbers are true determiners. However, it’s beyond question that “I saw one cat” is grammatical while *“I saw cat” is not, and even though “I saw the one cat” is also grammatical, there is a significant difference in emphasis.⁴ See also this answer.⁵ Other than that the possessive noun may require its own determiner: John Gragson's answer to Which one is correct - New Year's resolution or New Year resolution?And both act a bit oddly in conjoined phrases, e.g.:“Mary and Jim’s cat …” Only one ’s clitic is needed for the entire phrase. “Mary’s and Jim’s cat” as would be required in a language like Latin sounds archaic at best.And you’ll even encounter: “Mary and I’s cat …” People will say stuff like this and so (while it does kind of grate on me) this is arguably grammatical, and so is “Me and Mary’s cat”; see also this answer.⁶ John Gragson's answer to Does tense affect the verb "release" when I write "I don't remember the release date?” Will it be "released date" or "release date" when referring to the past?