Sentences are relative ideal translation units which we always deal with in the daily work. We know that English is a subject-prominent language and the construction of English sentences focuses on subject-predicate pivot.

Therefore, the identification of the subject and the predicate is the key to ensure correspondence in meaning and similarity in function when translating sentences from English to Chinese. We should pay attention to the following aspects to translate Chinese sentences well.

Firstly, identify the subject. There are three ways to achieve this goal: take the subject of the original sentences as the subject of the translated sentence, identify another subject and add a subject. The subject of an English sentence can only be a noun, a personal pronoun (nominative) or a noun phrase.

When the Chinese sentence has a clear subject and that subject is a noun or a personal pronoun (nominative), then we can use this subject as the subject of the translated sentence. For example, in the Chinese sentence “我们的房子是一百多年前建造的”, we can use “房子” as the subject, so this sentence can be translated as “our house was built over a hundred years ago”.

In many cases, we have to choose a new subject to ensure that the translated sentence is logical, smooth, natural and authentic. The subject used to replace the original subject of the Chinese sentence can either be other parts of the original sentence or some words not included in the Chinese sentence.

For instance, in the Chinese sentence “他的身材魁梧,生一副大长方脸,嘴巴阔大,肌肤呈着紫檀色”, the subject is “身材” with regard to the form, but when viewing the content of the subsequent three parts, the subject should be “他”.

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So this sentence can be translated as “he was a giant of a man with a long square face, a wide mouth and a complexion suffused with the color of red sandalwood”. Let us see another sentence “人不可貌相,海水不可斗量”, it can be translated as “it is impossible to judge people from their appearance, and impossible to measure the ocean by pints”.

The original subjects “人” and “海水” were replaced by “it”. It is common that the subject of a Chinese sentence is hidden or no subject contained in the sentence. But the English sentence should have a subject. So we have to add a subject when dealing with such kind of sentences.

For example, in the Chinese sentence “沉默呵,沉默呵!不在沉默中爆发,就在沉默中灭亡”, we can use “we” as the subject and translate it as “silence, silence! unless we burst out, we shall perish in this silence!”

Secondly, identify the predicate. The predicate of a Chinese sentence is very complex, while that of an English sentence is sole and only uses a verb or a verb phrase. Sometimes, we can choose the predicate corresponding to the original text when translating a Chinese sentence to an English one.

But in most cases, we do not use the original predicate and make adjustments to find a new one. When doing this, we base on the expressive needs, the semantic association with the subject, subject-predicate collocation, predicate-object collocation and sentence construction needs.

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