在 (progressive action / locative)

MikeG500

New Member
English
Hi all, I've been studying Mandarin for a couple weeks now. Can someone explain this. They say that to make a verb "ing" put Zai4 in front. So "Ni3 xei2 zhong1wen2 ma?" Then they say "duı4, wo3 za4i da4xeu2 xue2xi2." Which literally meant yes. I at university studying. Using Zai4 for at. But I thought you had to also add Zai4 in front of study to make it studying? So why isn't it "duı4, wo3 zai4 da4xeu2 zai4 xue2xi2."? Thanks!
 
  • xiaolijie

    Senior Member
    UK
    English (UK)
    Just as in English, a word may have more than one meaning, more than one use, so "zai + place" means "in/at/on + place".
    But if "zai + verb", then it's an action/ activity going on.

    What I've noticed from your post is your pinyin is not correct, not consistent. As you're new, it's very important to get this sorted or it'll have very bad influence on your pronunciation and even writing.
     

    MikeG500

    New Member
    English
    Thanks, I understand that there are two different meanings which is why I am confused why they only use Zai4 once in the sentence "I am studying at a university". So I am asking why they dont use Zai4 twice since they are saying "at" University and also making the verb study-"ing". So why is it not used twice? is this just a complicated grammar thing i'll learn later on?

    And I just copy pasted the sentences, I am good with tones and pinyin I wasn't really paying attention sorry about that.
     

    xiaolijie

    Senior Member
    UK
    English (UK)
    Ok, I see your point now. "Zai" can be used before a verb to indicate continuity but that is not always necessary nor it's the only way. Note that your sentence is a reply to a question without "zai" (ie, no "zai" in the question), so the reply needs to match that.
     

    tarlou

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Neither "wo3 zai4 zai4 da4 xue2 xue2 xi2" nor "wo3 zai4 da4 xue2 zai4 xue2 xi2" is a correct sentence, regardless of the context. You can't use two "zai4"s here.
    But since we never learnt grammar of our language, I don't really know how to explain this grammatically.

    Probably there are several possible "explanations" (if you want):
    1. -ing is not equivalent to zai4. Most likely I will use "zheng4zai4", "zheng4", or put a "ne" at the end of a sentence to indicate the action is in progress. Using "zai4" or "zheng4zai4" to replace "-ing" is a bit too "machinelike", sometimes very unnatural in a sentence.

    2. We don't consider "I'm studying at collage" as an ongoing action in Chinese. When saying this, I'm talking, not studying. In Chinese when we say "zai4xue2xi2", the person is doing homework
    right now (or taking class at a classroom, or whatever).

    3. The "fluency" of a sentence (including conciseness, avoiding repeated words, ...) is much more important than "logic" (i.e. grammar) in Chinese. I've been learning English for quite a few years, and I'm very very surprised that all English sentences I encountered are good in grammar (all prepositions and tenses are accurate). But in Chinese, grammar is less important (or maybe because I've never learnt grammar). In elementary schools where I learnt writings, a sentence with too much repeated words was considered "wrong" even if it is logically perfect.
    For example, if you want to say "I'm reading a book on my bed". In Chinese, it can be
    wo3
    zai4 chuang2 shang4 kan4 shu1
    wo3 zai4 chuang2 shang4 zheng4 kan4 shu1 ne
    wo3
    zheng4 zai4 chuang2 shang4 kan4 shu1
    You can put "zheng4" or "zheng4zai4" either after "wo3" or before the verb. However, when there are two consecutive "zai4"s, they are combined into one. And you can't say "wo3
    zai4 chuang2 shang4 zai4 kan4 shu1", because you should avoid repeated words and use a different one "zheng4".
     

    MikeG500

    New Member
    English
    Tarlou you definitely cleared that up a lot for me thank you for the through reply. You are correct in Saying in English most sentences are always grammatically correct, even in everyday speech for most parts. Although there are some slang words and shortened phrases used occasionally but usually still straightforward. Thanks again for your help! What language is your native?
     

    SuperXW

    Senior Member
    Because zai4 has different usages, e.g, 1. "at"; 2. "doing something now", to avoid ambiguity, Chinese have the following solution:

    For "doing something at somewhere", we use "zheng4zai4 + somewhere + do".
    zheng4: here, it also means "doing something now".
    zai4: here, it means "at".

    So, "wo3 zheng4zai4 da4xue2 xue2xi2" is the correct sentence.
     

    MikeG500

    New Member
    English
    Because zai4 has different usages, e.g, 1. "at"; 2. "doing something now", to avoid ambiguity, Chinese have the following solution:

    For "doing something at somewhere", we use "zheng4zai4 + somewhere + do".
    zheng4: here, it also means "doing something now".
    zai4: here, it means "at".

    So, "wo3 zheng4zai4 da4xue2 xue2xi2" is the correct sentence.
    Ah okay. I got this lesson from Chinesepod.com and they were talking about it but they said the sentence was this "duı4, wo3 zai4 da4xue2 xue2xı2." -Yeah, I’m studying at university. So are both correct or is Chinesepod incorrect?
     

    SuperXW

    Senior Member
    Ah okay. I got this lesson from Chinesepod.com and they were talking about it but they said the sentence was this "duı4, wo3 zai4 da4xue2 xue2xı2." -Yeah, I’m studying at university. So are both correct or is Chinesepod incorrect?
    "wo3 zai4 da4xue2 xue2xı2" literally means "I/at/university/study" or "I study at university", without emphasis on tense.
    "wo3 zheng4zai4 da4xue2 xue2xı2" literally means "I/am now/at/university/study" or "I am studying at universty now."
    Strictly speaking "wo3 zheng4zai4..." is more closed to "I'm studying at...", comparing to"wo3 zai4 da4xue2...".
    But since the meanings of these two: "I study at university./I'm studying at university." are not so different after all, people interpret them as the same thing.
     
    Last edited:

    zhg

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    You can use it twice but you need to change the order.我正在(在「X」大学)学习. X stands for the name of a university.
     
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