Posts tagged: chinese verb tenses

Dec 31 2009

No Verb Tenses at All ?

Mandarin Chinese must be one of the easiest languages when it comes to verb tenses.  I have already posted the various ways in which to simply convey past and future tense but I wanted to write a post that essentially shows Chinese as a “tenseless” language.

This is because in Chinese so much is conveyed already through context.  For example there are no plurals in Mandarin.  We have “1 book” and we have “2 book”.  In English we must add an “s” (most of the time, there are exceptions of course eg mouse/mice) however in Mandarin this is not an issue.  In fact it’s completely logical.  The adding of “s” in English is really unnecessary.  If I say how many books I have, 1 or 2, I already know if it’s a plural or not.

Verbs can also work in the same way.  If we are talking about tomorrow and then go on to discuss what we will do, there is no need to change the tense of every verb like we have to do in English.  We have already established we are talking about the future, so we can continue talking in the present tense without being grammatically incorrect.

The same applies for the past, once we have established we are talking about yesterday or last year or whenever, the listener knows we are talking about the past and therefore it isn’t necessary to change the tense of every verb.  The past is implied through context.

This type of simplicity and logic is found throughout the entire language, making it incredibly easy to learn in my opinion.

Alibi3col theme by Themocracy
Sundresses for Women