Lost a Sock

Lost a Sock

Have you ever lost something in the laundromat? Most people have, but we seldom notice until we get home. Here is a quick Mandarin lesson, just in case it happens to you.

Interesting Grammar Pattern

“Zhǎo bù dào” means “to search without success”

In English we have two words: “search” means to look for something and “find” means to locate it. In fact we have a number similar verb pairs: look/see, listen/hear, buy/own. By contrast Chinese, uses one word with two grammar structures.

The structure is called a “result complement”. There two forms of the result-complement: positive and negative.

For example:

  • Zhǎo bù dào” Indicates that the item was not found, while
  • Zhǎo de dào” indicates that it was found./li>

This pattern may seem strange at first, but it actually makes the language easier, since it reduces vocabulary.

What Did She Say?

Here is the conversation that the photographer had after she emerged from the dryer:

PinyinChineseEnglish
Nǐ zài gànshénme?你在干什么?What are you doing?
Wó zhǎo bú dào wǒ de wàzi!我找不到我的袜子I can’t find my sock!
PinyinEnglish
you
zàinow
gàndoing
什么shénmewhat
I
zhǎolook
búdàosuccess (result complement)
我的wǒdemy
袜子wàzisock