你不能把油和水混合 - You can't mix oil with water - explain 把 bǎ usage

Hi everyone,
I stumbled upon this example sentence:
你不能油和水混合.
nǐ bù néng bǎ yóu hé shuǐ hùnhé.
You can't mix oil with water.
Can someone explain this construction to me? What's the purpose of 把 in this sentence? 
Would it still be a correct sentence if i just dropped 把?

Thanks in advance :)

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Hi Tobi,

The particle 把 ba3 is used after the subject and before the noun to show that that noun is the object of the sentence. It also means the subject is the person that does the action, so ba3 also works as an active voice marker.

See my website for more detailed explanation about the particle ba3.

http://www.chinesetolearn.com/?p=2209

Hi again,

The ba3 can't be dropped. It is necessary to use ba3.

Happy New Year to you all.

That's a tough one.  I would expect to see 把 in this context with 在 and 里.  If I were trying to say this I'd probably come up with something like:

你不能把油在水里混合。

Nǐ bùnéng bǎ yóu zài shuǐ lǐ hùnhé.

I'm not a native speaker, so I'm just guessing here.  But as far as I know 把 in your sentence is functioning as "put."

So the literal translation might be something like:

你    不  能   把   油  和    水    混合.

You not can put oil and water mix.

 

But this 把 thing happens a lot in Chinese - even if you don't have the "put" context.  For example:

我吃了苹果。

Wǒ chī le píngguǒ.

I ate an apple.

我把苹果吃了。

Wǒ bǎ píngguǒ chī le.

I ate an apple.

It's two different ways to say the same thing.  If I'm wrong on any of this, someone please let me know.  I started a discussion on "put" last week because it really is tricky. Click here if you want to check it out.  Definitely look at Shu's website, http://www.chinesetolearn.com/?p=2209.   I hope that helps you out.   

Matt,

Another way to say this sentence is

你不能油和水混合在一起.
nǐ bù néng bǎ yóu hé shuǐ hùnhé zai4 yi4 qi3..

You can't mix oil and water together.

I know this page with thorough explanation for 把

  • can be used when you want to specify that the result of an action affects a particular object, but not the action itself. This is because some resultative complements have ambiguous references and can refer either to the main verb of the sentence or to the object. For instance:

tā   hē   wán    jiŭ    le

           了。

HE  FINISHED HIS WINE./ HE HAS FINISHED DRINKING.

The resultative complement (to complete) can refer either to the object or

to the verb , so the meaning of that sentence can be either "He has drunk up all the wine," (and there is no wine left) or "He has finished drinking (the wine)," (but there is still plenty of wine left). If you use the construction, the meaning is clearer:

HE 

bă   jiŭ  

 

BA WINE

hē     wán   le

         

DRINK FINISH  LE

He has drunk up all the wine.

When a sentence has both a direct and an indirect object connected by a verb plus a complement, The   has to come in.

 

you can also visit here for other patterns.

http://www.ctcfl.ox.ac.uk/Grammar%20exercises/Ba.htm

Wow guys, thank you all! 

It seems like a miracle that I never stumbled upon 把 used in this way before.

I hope I can master it with the help of the website recommended by Teacher Gen! ;-)

Great to see you have the initiative to learn Chinese!

It's good to ask for guides even a tiny thing whenever you have doubts about them.

and a few natives and teachers here are always happy to help!

Enjoy and good luck! Happy New Year in advance! :)

 

 

@ Teacher Gen

Ok so you mentioned, "

The resultative complement  (to complete) can refer either to the object  or to the verb 喝". Can you tell me if these translations are correct to make sure I understand this?


他把酒喝完了(He has drunk all of the wine), 他把喝酒完了 (He has finished drinking wine). 

Thanks!

Great question, Steven!

though the statement does mean that way but it means the '完' in the sentence could refer to either

  finishing the whole bottle of wine 

or

finishing his own cup of wine or he finished drinking, as in he wants to stop drinking but he hasn't finish the bottle of wine,

 

喝完了

the 把 word is placed infront of the 酒(wine)

 to indicate that the object is affect by result of an action.

where object= wine, result=finished, action= drink

let me give you another example;

他吃完汉堡包了。<this sentence could mean either he has finished the burger OR he had enough, he's full , he's done with eating the burger.

to clearly state that he finished the whole burger, we use 把. to direct and give focus to the object=(burger)

汉堡包吃完了。

 

However, the 把 word is always placed only infront of an object, (things, human, matters)

 because it complements object, to give focus on an particular object.

so for your question whether we can say 他把喝酒完了,there are syntax error because 喝 is an action , you can go with 他喝完酒了 :)

 

by the way, I took the sentences from the site. I just highlighted them, though I hope you can digest my advice!

把 construction is quite confusing but it will be better when you practice it more in building sentences in Daily Chinese Sentence. then you'll understand it better, good luck and keep up the good work!

Hmmm! This is a pretty good explanation! Thanks!

The BA-construction (把字句 ba3 zi4 ju4 ) is an extremely important syntactic structure in Chinese, which is frequently used in daily Chinese conversation. Ba3 has been a quite special Chinese linguistic phenomenon and drawing a lot  linguists' attention to decide whether it grammatically belongs to verb category or preposition category. 

There are some smart linguists combined both arguments about the BA-construction  and  call the ba3 as  a “coverb” (literally: a sub- verb 副动词,次动词) which shares the properties of both a verb and a preposition. Isn't this a very smart assertion? They think ba3 originally is a verb, but it does not really serve the verb function, instead it serves prepositional function.
If you want to learn more about this ba3 structure, you are welcome to visit:http://www.chinesetolearn.com/?p=2303

I am personally grappling with the use of "把“ myself. I guess it's one of those things you get over time with usage, kind of like parallel parking!

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