The finer points of grammar
On the left, our language teacher, Yang Yu, explains to us how to convey spatial relationships, using “inside” (里边) and three different verbal constructions: 1) something (在) something; 2) someplace 有 something; and, 3) someplace (是)something. A literal English translation of the Chinese sentence structure reads:
1) Three students are the room’s inside
2) The room’s inside has three students
3) The bag’s inside is the Chinese book
4) The Chinese book is the bag’s inside
On the right our language teacher, Li Hong, explained the proper use of “de shi hou” with “zhang zai” to communicate the temporal use of “when” and “while” using Pin Yin (the romanized spelling of Chinese characters). A literal English translation, top to bottom, reads:
1) I miss my daughter when she also is in the process of missing us.
2) Mim drinks water when Jeff is in the process of drinking coffee
3) I study when our parents are in the process of sleeping
We are learning that we just need to think in Chinese, not English, in order to understand. The Chinese language follows consistent rules of grammar that are logical. We just need to learn them and speak them. At this point, in our language learning, we are feeling “muddled.” Everything is jumbled. We just need to adjust to a new syntax. This will happen when we are more immersed in the Chinese language. It helps to have some instruction in English, otherwise, we would have no clue has to what is going on.