Range characteristics in non-material clauses in Mandarin Chinese


  • Yang Guowen Chinese Academy of Social Sciences




construction, participant, process type, range, systemic functional grammar


Range described in this article is a generalized term for some non-inherent participants of processes defined within the theoretical framework of Systemic Functional Grammar. This article discusses the characteristics of Range in non-material clauses in Mandarin Chinese by comparing its grammatical behaviour with that of inherent participants of processes and that of its counterpart in English. Due to the lexical and grammatical differences between English and Chinese, circumstantial elements that are commonly realized by prepositional phrases in English are more likely to be realized by nouns or nominal groups in Chinese, functioning as the elements of Range. Range in different processes in Chinese generally make complementary specifications of those processes. Compared with inherent participants of processes, Range is much less likely to change its position in the clause. It has a lower possibility to follow the preposition b? ? in the b? ? construction and to be the thematic element in the bèi ? construction. Furthermore, the Range is less likely than the inherent participants to have thematic status in the complement-theme construction and to be marked focus in the contrastive-emphatic construction.

Author Biography

Yang Guowen, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

YANG Guowen was born in Beijing (China), received a Bachelor of Engineering in computer science from Tsinghua University in Beijing, an MA in computational linguistics from the Graduate School of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, and a Ph.D. from the University of Bremen. She is a professor at the Institute of Linguistics of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Beijing.


Chao, Y. (1968) A Grammar of Spoken Chinese. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Halliday, M. A. K. Revised by Matthiessen, C. M. I. M. (2004/2008) An Introduction to Functional Grammar (3rd edition). London: Hodder Arnold / Beijing: Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press.

Halliday, M. A. K. (2007) Studies in Chinese Language. Edited by J. J. Webster. Beijing: Peking University Press.

Halliday, M. A. K. and Matthiessen, C. M. I. M. (1999/2008) Construing Experience through Meaning. London: Continuum / Beijing: World Book Publication Company.

Hu, Z. (1999) Systemic functional grammar and the study of Chinese grammar. In Q. Ma (ed.) A Gateway to Grammar Study 252–270. Beijing: The Commercial Press.

Li, C. N. and Thompson S. A. (1981) Mandarin Chinese: A Functional Reference Grammar. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Li, L. (1990) Verbs in Mandarin Chinese. Beijing: China Social Sciences Press.

Lv, S. (1953) An Outline of Chinese Grammar. Shanghai: The Commercial Press.

Lv, S. (1999) The verb and object in the bèi and b? constructions. In The Collected Essays on Chinese Grammar by Lv Shuxiang, 200–208. Beijing: The Commercial Press.

McDonald, E. (1998) Clause and Verbal Group System in Chinese: A Text-based Functional Approach. PhD dissertation, Department of Linguistics at Macquarie University.

Meng, C. et al. (eds) (1999) The Dictionary of Verb Usage. Beijing: The Commercial Press.

Peng, X. (2011) An Introduction to Language and Linguistics – Chinese Systemic Functional Grammar. Beijing: Peking University Press.

Shen, J. (1999) A Theory of Markedness and Asymmetrical Phenomena. Nanchang: Jiangxi Education Press.

Teng, S. (1984) A Semantic Study of Transitivity Relations in Chinese. Taipei: Students Books.

Wang, L. (1985) Modern Chinese Grammar. Beijing: The Commercial Press.

Xu, S. (1985) Object and Complement. Harbin: Heilongjiang People’s Press.

Yang, G. (2001) Differences between Range and Goal of material processes in Chinese. Studies in Language and Linguistics 45 (4): 8–17.

Yang, G. (2002) An investigation of the usage of the bèi construction in different types of processes in Chinese. Contemporary Linguistics 4 (1): 13–24.

Yang, G. (2004) The systemic theory of process types applied to the b? construction in Chinese. Journal of Chinese Language Teachers Association 39 (2): 49–84.

Yang, G. (2007) The Semantics of Chinese Aspects – Theoretical Descriptions and a Computational Implementation. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.

Yang, G. (2013) Subject in sentence segments of the SP type. Chinese Teaching in the World 27(4): 435–453.

Yang, G. (2014) Sentence segments in Chinese and their compatibility with the clauses described in SFG. Studies in Language and Linguistics 34(4): 47–54.

Zhang, B. and Fang, M. (1996) A Study of Functional Chinese Grammar. Nanchang: Jiangxi Education Press.



How to Cite

Guowen, Y. (2015). Range characteristics in non-material clauses in Mandarin Chinese. Linguistics and the Human Sciences, 10(2), 83–102. https://doi.org/10.1558/lhs.v10i2.28555