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Chinese Grammar: Using 住 after a verb

You guys probably already knew that the word means “to live” in Chinese. It’s useful because it’s the fundamental way to ask "where do you live?" : " ?" However, do you know that if you use after the verb, it has an entirely different meaning? Wondering how to use this pattern? Let us show you!


This is a handy pattern in spoken Chinese. In fact, you'll frequently hear the Chinese using it to express a specific situation or to stay/keep a particular state. You can use after a verb also to describe a lever or a state of something/somebody. Generally, it has two usages if we depend on the sense it conveys.

To indicate a sense of firmness. In this case, you can consider it as “firmly/tightly” in English as a complement to express the result.

To demonstrate the ability to complete a certain action it describes. You can translate it “be able to” in English as a potential complement.


Verb +

Examples Indicating the firmness:

The cars are blocking the road.

The blood stopped.

站住 还有
Stop, I still have something to tell you.

Examples Indicating the ability:

记住 家的 地址
Can you remember my address?

可以 抓住
You can hold my hand.

不要 到处
Please look after my dog and don’t let it run free.

There is another pattern to stress a certain state that you can stay or keep. It’s the situation to express the ability of something. You can use with as a potential complement.


Verb + +


These books are not heavy, I can hold them.

这个 靠得住 可以 相信
This person is reliable, you can trust him.

还有 十分
10 minutes left, can you still bear it?

You can use to negate this pattern, indicating that you have no abilities to do something.


Verb + +


坚持 不住
I’m so tired, and I can’t insist on it.

I could not help laughing.

记不住 怎么 回到 这里
He couldn’t remember how he came back here.

Oh noes!

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