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Basic Patterns of Chinese Grammar: A Student's Guide to Correct Structures and Common Errors Paperback – December 21, 2010

4.6 out of 5 stars 84 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Qin Xue Herzberg: Qin Xue Herzberg is a native speaker of Chinese and a graduate of Beijing Normal University in Chinese Language and Literature. For the past ten years she has been the upper-level Chinese language professor at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. For the past several decades she has taught Chinese to Americans of all ages.

Larry Herzberg: Larry Herzberg studied Chinese for five years at Vanderbilt University before doing his Master's and Ph.D. work in Chinese Language and Literature at Indiana University. In 1980 he founded the Chinese Language Program at Albion College and then did the same at Calvin College in 1984. For the past three decades he has taught the Chinese language at the college level.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Stone Bridge Press; Bilingual edition (December 21, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933330899
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933330891
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.4 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (84 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #32,123 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book goes directly to the basic differences between Chinese and English grammar. Textbooks tend to favor Chinese sentences close to English grammar. Sentences like "Ta yangle haizi"/"He raised children." I take this example from a textbook I will not name since it is no worse than most. They mean to be helpful but they obscure the intriguing differences and they appeal to English-language intuitions. This book encourages you to think in Chinese.

It is all too natural for English speakers to read "Ta yangle haizi" as if the Chinese "yangle" is the past tense "raised." Textbooks rely on this to make students comfortable. But it is wrong. Verbs in Chinese do not have tenses, rather the sentences convey tense information. It is misleading to treat "yangle" as one word in the first place. Rather "yang le" is two words expressing "raise" and the idea of completing.

The Herzbergs explain this by clear examples of sentence tense and of different uses of "le." For example, "Ta chi le" can mean either "He just ate" or "He wants to eat." This is unnatural to English speakers since in English those are opposites. It is natural in Chinese because "he eat complete" can name either an existing state of affairs or a desired one, depending on context.

The particle "le" by itself has no natural meaning in English. It is natural Chinese.

This book gives numerous examples of patterns not natural in English which are natural in Chinese. The ease and clarity of presentation make these patterns natural to US students.

As other reviewers have said, the Herzbergs are one native speaker of Standard Chinese and one of English, both accomplished teachers of Chinese to American students.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have taken the slowest possible way to learning spoken and written Chinese language, i.e. the self-study approach. In doing this, I have needed the best possible tools to help me organize a program and to keep on track with a steady sense of progress. One of the tools that I have found most helpful is this short 120-page book written by a husband-and-wife team, Qin Xue Herzberg and Larry Herzberg, both of whom teach college level Chinese language courses at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

What does one want from a grammar book for self-study? For me, it's a combination of clarity and challenge. I want to be able to understand the principles that are being laid out without needing to enroll in a time-consuming and expensive course at the same time that I want to have the sense that nothing is being given to me in too simple a way. I want a challenge; I want to feel that I have to work for what I am getting. Not because I am a masochist, but because in my experience the effort reinforces the learning. I want to feel that I am confronting new but useful structures all the time, and I want as much Chinese language as possible included in the lessons so that I am not getting everything second hand through English instruction. In this way, I can work on important language structures and also pick up important vocabulary along the way.

The Herzbergs have produced just the right book for someone who is taking my approach. In thirteen compact chapters they lay out important principles relating to word order, parts of speech, special particles, special word choice issues, and even some letter-writing formalities (though I think one would be hard-pressed to find real letter writers anymore).
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Format: Paperback
I am a student in my second year of taking Chinese in college. Since finishing my first year of Chinese, I have begun to wish that I could have the basic grammar patterns of Chinese written down for me, to help me apply my knowledge outside of the classroom. Sure, I can understand the patterns in class, but outside of class I am often lost. This book is an amazing learning tool to have. It's easy to follow along and it's incredibly helpful. It's the perfect size for carrying around and pulling out when the homework gets tough. '''''''
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Having studied Chinese formally for two years, this book serves as the perfect review tool to refresh my knowledge and help me retain what I studied in class years ago. As I continue to study on my own, I am constantly turning to this book for easy and clear reference--it is a beautifully succinct collection of the important and essential grammar that I learned over the two years, neatly condensed into a handy tool I can take with me as I live and travel in China. Definitely recommended to anyone considering study of Chinese or anyone who wants a great way to help them remember what they've already learned.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I am writing my review from a dorm room in China. I do not typically write reviews, but I had to comment on this book. After sitting with a very knowledgeable Chinese professor trying to hash out some grammar difficulties, I went on a search for more help. I am so relieved to find a complete yet "brief" grammar guide. The authors have done a fantastic job of taking the fluff out, without leaving the reader with a book of rules that don't seem applicable to your everyday life. They have integrated the rules succinctly and in an understandable fashion. Even though I am on a limited budget here and balked at the $10 price, after reading the book, would have felt I got my value at $20. If you want to study Chinese this is one of those purchases you will be glad to have made time and again and will reference repeadtedly.
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