Compound vs non-compound resultatives

Mandarin V-V resultatives have greater flexibility in argument realisation than English resultatives. For example, the (first) verb can omit its otherwise obligatory theme in Mandarin V-V resultatives (1) but not in English resultatives (2).


Lǎo Wèi qiē-dùn-le càidāo.
Lao Wei cut-dull-PFV knife
‘The knife became dull as a result of Lao Wei cutting something.’


*Al cut the knife dull.    (Williams 2005)

What are Mandarin V-V resultatives?

V-V resultatives are compounds made up of two verbs, V1 and V2. V1 describes the manner in which a change was brought about, while V2 describes the result of that change.

V-V resultatives are also called resultative compounds or resultative verb compounds (RVCs). They are sometimes referred to as complements of result, result complements or resultative complements, terms that directly translate jiéguǒ bǔyǔ (结果补语) in Chinese.

Why are Mandarin V-V resultatives more flexible than English resultatives?

Researchers have claimed that this difference between English and Mandarin resultatives arises because English verbs always project their arguments whereas Mandarin verbs never do (Williams 2005, Huang 2006).

In contrast, I claim that this difference arises because Mandarin V-V resultatives are compounds whereas English resultatives are not.

My proposal also explains the difference between compound vs non-compound resultatives within the same language, e.g. between V-V and V-de resultatives in Mandarin, and between V-V and ku/ni-resultatives in Japanese.

How can I find out more?

You can read more about my work here:


  • Wenkai Tay. Compound vs phrasal resultatives: the view from Mandarin Chinese. Syntax & Semantics Reading Group, Queen Mary University of London, 6 Dec 2023. [handout]
  • Wenkai Tay. Compound vs phrasal resultatives: the view from Mandarin Chinese. 2023 Annual Meeting of the Linguistics Association of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (LAGB), Anglia Ruskin University, 29 Aug-1 Sep 2023. [abstract] [handout]
  • Wenkai Tay. On the flexibility of argument realisation in Mandarin V-V resultatives. Resultatives: new approaches and renewed perspectives, National University of Singapore, 20-22 Mar 2023. [abstract] [handout]

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.