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Say It Right Series

syntax complications

Posted by f-zim July 4, 2010 in the Group Grammar Questions.

As easy as Chinese syntax normally is – sometimes it is still a challenge for me.

Take for example the words “the only one” (惟一) or “the first” (第一個). I know perfectly well how to use them prenominally (as is 兒子是她惟一的親人), but it gets confusing if I would like to include another sentence.

How would you say: “That is the only reason I can think of”? Doesn't it sound a bit cumbersome to say 這是我能想到惟一的理由? How would you say “he's the only person except you who knows that”? 除了你以外,他是惟一知道的人? I'm simply guessing here.

I have similar difficulties when I think about structures like: “you are the second person today to tell me this” – 你今天已經是第二個這麼說的人? “You are the first person we tell that we are getting married” – 你是我們告訴我們要結婚的第一個人…? That can't be right, it sounds awful.

Can anyone shed some light?

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