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v./adj. to be; correct, right
Discussion of 是
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是 can be simply translated into English as “to be”. It has the following meanings:
1. Expressing judgment
E.g. 这是剪刀。 [phr] These are scissors.
E.g. 今天是星期三。 [phr] Today is Wednesday.
2. Expressing existence
E.g. 大楼前面是一个广场。 [phr] In front of the building there is a square.
3. Denoting classification
E.g. 左边的那个杯子是你的,右边的是我的。 [phr] The cup on the left is yours. The one on the right is mine.
是 is not an action verb. It cannot be followed by 了, 着, or 过. It can neither be followed by complements. The negative form of 是 is 不是
Both 是 and 有 can be used to express existence. What is the difference?
Generally speaking, 有 is more widely used than 是 when expressing existence. We can only replace 有 with 是 only in some sentences (E.g. 1). In E.g. 2, we cannot use 是.
E.g. 1 大楼前面是/有一个广场。 [phr] In front of the building there is a square.
E.g. 2 大楼前面有一棵树。 [phr] In front of the building there is a tree.
“Square” is a large item which fills the space “in front of the building”. In this case we can use 是. But in E.g. 2, “a tree” is a small object which only occupies a small portion of the space “in front of the building”, so we cannot use 是.
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