I. What are resultative complements?

 

In English, the verb ‘hear’ has two semantic units, the sensory action ‘to listen’ and perception as a result of the action. The verb ‘see’ also has two semantic units with one indicating the action of looking and the other indicating perception as the result. Only a small number of Chinese verbs resemble such English verbs as ‘hear’ and ‘see’. Most Chinese verbs resemble the verb ‘listen’ and ‘look’ in English, which only indicate the sensory actions without a built-in semantic unit indicating result. Therefore, there are no such verbs as ‘hear’, ‘see’, ‘find’, ‘kill’ and so on in Chinese. For example, the verb tīng (to listen) and kàn (look) do not indicate whether the sound has been heard or whether the object has been seen. Not having a built-in semantic unit indicating result, Chinese verbs have to take an additional resultative unit to report whether the action is successful. This unit is what we call the resultative complement. It is placed immediately after the verb to indicate the result of the action. In the case of tīng (to listen) and kàn (to look), the verb jiàn (to perceive) must be used as a complement to form combos that indicate perception, such as tīngjiàn听见for ‘hear’ and kànjiàn看见for ‘see’ .