Login Sign up

Chinese Grammar: To be doing something with 着

Don’t just stand there! Do something! Sometimes, in life, there are situations where you just have to say that to someone, right? Wouldn’t you love to know how to say that in Chinese? I knew you would. So today, we’re going to learn about (zhe). comes in handy when you want to talk about something you are currently doing, or talk about an on-going situation.

has three main functions. Let’s start with how you can use to talk about an ongoing, continuous situation.

1. Continuous actions and ongoing states with

By placing after a verb, you can describe what someone or something is currently and continuously doing. It is close to how you can use in front of a verb to talk about what someone is doing. V+, like +V can sometimes be similar to “-ing” in English.


S + Verb/Adjective + + O


She is lying on the bed.

The door is open.

He is brushing his teeth.

门口 一个人
A man is standing by the door.

She is holding a coffee.

穿白色 裤子眼镜 女人 就是 妹妹
That girl wearing white pants and glasses is my younger sister.

Wait, I thought you used for that!

It can be a little confusing at first to know whether you should be using or but it’ll become easier gradually!

One way to know which to use is to keep in mind that, generally:

  • you use for actions in progress;
  • you use to talk about a continuous state -- a state resulting from an action and for verbs where you’re not really doing an action (like sitting, lying, listening, wearing, raining...).

Don't worry, the more you experience sentences in Chinese, the more you’ll get a feel for when to use which.

What’s interesting to note about is that it implies a longer-lasting, more sustained effect. In the examples above, to sit is a short-lasting action: you were in the process of sitting down and then you’re done: you’ve sat. It’s quick. But if you add after it, it indicates a long-lasting situation: you are sitting. is “to open” (it’s quick) and is open.

2. to describe the state of objects

is also used to describe the state of objects, that is to say how an object exists or has been left. In this type of sentence, the subject is usually a location, and the object cannot be a person or an animal.


Location + V + + Object


桌子 啤酒
There are several beers on the table.

A painting is hanging on the wall.

路边 汽车
A car is parked in the street.

3. Use for two connected actions

The third use of is to describe the manner in which another action has been carried out.


Verb 1 (state)+ + (Main) Verb 2 + Object

In a sentence that contains two actions verbs and one of them describes the main action, is placed after the secondary verb to describe how the main action was carried out. These examples should help you understand better.


She called while standing.

Don't read while walking.

She is singing while walking.

He walked in, smiling.

As you can see from the examples, the secondary verb -- the one that describes how the main action was carried out -- is always placed first, before the main action.

Do not confuse this use of with 一边 一边 which describes two actions happening simultaneously.

Oh noes!

An error occured, please reload the page.
Don't hesitate to report a feedback if you have internet!

You are disconnected!

We have not been able to load the page.
Please check your internet connection and retry.