1. The WordReference Forums have moved to new forum software. (Details)

着 (continuous action)

Discussion in '中文+方言 (Chinese)' started by Zephie, May 7, 2013.

  1. Zephie New Member

    English - UK
    Okay so I have a question:

    I know that 着 can be used to show something that a continuous action occurring at the time of speaking i.e. 他正在念着 or 他在床躺着。

    However can you use it to show a continuous state of affairs? i.e. 我舅妈学着用电脑 or 他的汉语/口语改进着。 In these two examples the action is occurring over a period of time which includes that of the speaker.

    I'd much appreciate any help with this, I'm finding it a little confusing!
    : tense/aspect
  2. Lucia_zwl

    Lucia_zwl Senior Member

    他正在念课文。I think there should be an object after 念.

    我舅妈学着用电脑。You can say like this, but the sentence sounds to me unfinished. I would say 我舅妈正在学电脑, which could mean she's learning computer at the time of speaking, or she has been learning it over a period of time. It depends on the context. You can also add a time indicator, say
    我舅妈最近正在学电脑, which only means that the action has been lasting for a period of time.

    他的汉语/口语改进着。I would say, 他的汉语有进步-- His Chinese is improving. Or you can also use 最近, like 他的汉语最近有进步--His Chinese has been improved recently.
    Last edited: May 7, 2013
  3. Zephie New Member

    English - UK
    Thanks for the reply and corrections. Just to confirm, you are saying that 着 can be used in the context I gave? Whilst I realise that my example sentences could be constructed without it, I specifically need to be able to use it in an upcoming exam and am looking for ways to fit it in. We only just learnt it and I'm finding it, along with 被 sentences, to be a bit of a handful :eek:
  4. Lucia_zwl

    Lucia_zwl Senior Member

    I happened to edit my last post when you were posting...:p
    For me it's not incorrect but sounds unfinished, so I would not suggest you use this without explanation in your exam. I think both of the following sentences are fine:
  5. Zephie New Member

    English - UK
    How about: 她正在学用电脑呢,她公司是最近用电脑管里蔬菜

    Is the 呢 needed there? Also if the 是。。。的 sentence is entirely wrong I could just change it to 他公司最近开用电脑管理蔬菜? In case that sentence sounds weird, the pretext is that she owns a vegetable growing business.
  6. Lucia_zwl

    Lucia_zwl Senior Member

    Yes, this sentence sounds more completed with a reason, but you need a linking word here:她正在学着用电脑呢,因为她的公司用电脑管理蔬菜种植。 蔬菜种植means vegetable growing. You can keep 呢 here, it's no problem to me.:)
  7. zhg Senior Member

    Hi Zephie
    Are you indicating that 着 functions the same way as gerund does in English? like 看 is present tense and 看着 is present continuous?
    Well if so , I have to disagree, because all of you sentences would still be implying continuous actions even if you drop 着(provided with proper changes of word order) ,which I believe couldn't be true in English language, as showed in some of the sentences rewritten by Lucia above.
    Regarding your doubt about whether it could be indicating a state of continuous, I say that is true. And the only difference I see between 他在床上躺着 and 他正躺在床上 is that the former with 着 focuses on the state of him lying in the bed while the latter on the action "lie"

    Also I am not trying to be critical about your words but why don't you use 正在学电脑 instead of 正在学着电脑
    Last edited: May 7, 2013
  8. YangMuye Senior Member

    Chinese - Mandarin
    The usage of 着 is hard to explain.
    In these sentences:
    1. 他在床上躺着。
    2. 门开着。
    3. 房间空着。
    4. 手里拿着苹果。……
    You cannot use (正)在 instead of (着). I think they are not continuous actions. The verbs are not actions.
    躺着, 开着 and 空着 are viewed as the result states of 躺, 空 and 开. (similar to perfect aspect)
    In fact, 躺着, 开着 and 空着 do not even imply events like 躺, 开 and 空 have ever token place. They just function like adjectives.
    Not all verbs can be used like this. I don't know if there is any rule, but you can simple think 开着/空着/拿着 as totally different words than 开/空/拿…

    When the verb describes an action(such as 学电脑、念课文), we usually do not use 着 to report an (on-going) event. But we use it a lot when telling stories. I cannot find a good explanation for this usage.
  9. zhg Senior Member

    I agree. Sometimes I do feel with or without 着 they can be completely different, for instance
    看着他,心中想到... I'm looking at him wondering ... is fine ,but 我看他 dosn't mean anything to me.
    书能陶冶情操 Reading books is good for one's mind, but 看着书 is strange why would someone just look at a book but not open it up and start reading?
    Last edited: May 7, 2013
  10. YangMuye Senior Member

    Chinese - Mandarin
    They do not sound strange to me at all. I think you are expressing in a more delineative way.
  11. zhg Senior Member

    Yes, that could be true given right contexts.But would it be better to say 他一边看书,一边对我说?

    Just in case we don't go too far off the topic, it might be better to re-state my point that ,unlike English gerund, "着" is not a necesary part of the verb to form continuous actions without it actions could be continuous as well.Not every verb you find can apply a Verb+着= continuous rule,sometimes it means differently from the original verb.
    Last edited: May 7, 2013
  12. xiaolijie

    xiaolijie MOD

    English (UK)
    Zephie, the problem with this "着" is not that it's difficult to learn or to use, but that people keep associating it with the continuous progressive in English. Don't do that - don't learn Chinese via English structures - or most of you sentences with "着" will need to be corrected, as you've seen above.

    What you need to do is re-learn how to use "着": its use is motivated so try to remember under what circumstances it is used and don't just use it when you think the continous progressive is required in English. I can't give you a lesson on "着" here but just some simple examples for you to see that the use of "着" doesn't have much to do with the progressive.

    1. 他躺着看书 (He's was reading lying down)
    躺着 here indicates the state you're in when reading.
    2. 墙上挂着一幅画 (A painting is hung on the wall).
    挂着 here indicates the state the painting is in as a result of someone's action.
    3. 他们抽着烟,喝着酒,高兴极了!(The drank, smoked, and got very excited)
    着 is used here to show a number of actions going on at the same time.
    So you can see from the italic parts of the examples the reasons for the use of 着, and these reasons have very little to do with continous actions.

Share This Page