The Analysis of the Chinese Phrasal VR Constructions from the Perspective of Event Structure Theory


There is a kind of Chinese VR (verb-resultative) constructions in which the meanings of verb and complement (stands as the “result”) are relatively independent and decomposable. We call it “phrasal VR construction”. Syntactic structures of this kind are various. The semantic orientations of complements are complicated. And there are some grammatical phenomena that have not been explained yet. After choosing four typical Chinese VR structures (“哭累” (cry-tired, being tired from crying), “哭湿” (cry-wet, being wet from crying), “洗累” (wash-tired, being tired from washing), and “推倒” (push over)), this article first described them in accordance with Levin & Rappaport’s event structure theory, and summarized the principles of the three participants’ prominence and recession. Then the article, by analyzing the projection process from the event structure to the syntactic structure, found the correspondence between the participants and the syntactic elements. Finally it gave interpretations to the unexplained grammatical phenomena.

Share and Cite:

Feng, L. , Chen, L. and Feng, L. (2015) The Analysis of the Chinese Phrasal VR Constructions from the Perspective of Event Structure Theory. Open Journal of Modern Linguistics, 5, 65-72. doi: 10.4236/ojml.2015.51006.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Chang, J. (2003). Event Structure and Argument Linking in Chinese. Language and Linguistics, 4, 317-351.
[2] Croft, W. (1998) Event Structure in Argument Linking. The Projection of Arguments: Lexical and Compositional Factors, 8, 21-63.
[3] Croft, W., & Cresswell, M. J. (1991). Syntactic Categories and Grammatical Relations: The Cognitive Organization of Information. Chicago and London.
[4] Langacker, R. W. (1987). Foundations of Cognitive Grammar: Theoretical Prerequisites (Vol. 1). Redwood City, CA: Stanford University Press.
[5] Lü, S. X. (1942). Essentials of Chinese Grammar. Beijing: The Commercial Press.
[6] Pei, X. Y. (2007). The Research of V-R in Verb-Copying Sentences. Master Dissertation, Shanghai: Shanghai Normal University.
[7] Rappaport Hovav, M., & Levin, B. (1998). Building Verb Meanings. The Projection of Arguments: Lexical and Compositional Factors, 97-134.
[8] Shi, C. H. (2008). The Syntactic and Semantic Studies of Chinese V-R. Beijing: Beijing Language University Press.
[9] Sun, H. L. (2005). The Study of Verb-copying Sentences in Modern Chinese. PhD Dissertation, Beijing: Beijing Language University.
[10] Vendler, Z. (1967). Linguistics in Philosophy. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
[11] Wang, L. (1943). Modern Chinese Grammar. Bejing: The Commercial Press.
[12] Zhang, W. X. (2009). Studies on Covert Quantity of Syntactic Structures in Chinese. Beijing: Beijing Language University Press.

Copyright © 2022 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.