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 着 (zhe). 着 comes in handy when you want to talk about something you are currently doing, or talk about an on-going situation.
1. Continuous actions and ongoing states with 着
By placing 着 after a verb, you can describe what someone or something is currently and continuously doing. It is close to how you can use 在 in front of a verb to talk about what someone is doing. V+着, like 在+V can sometimes be similar to “-ing” in English.
S + Verb/Adjective + 着 + O
Wait, I thought you used 在 for that!
One way to know which to use is to keep in mind that, generally:
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 着 is that it implies a longer-lasting, more sustained effect. In the examples above, 坐 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 着 after it, it indicates a long-lasting situation: you are sitting. 开 is “to open” (it’s quick) and 开 着 is open.
2. 着 to describe the state of objects
着 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 + 着 + Object
3. Use 着 for two connected actions
The third use of 着 is to describe the manner in which another action has been carried out.
Verb 1 (state)+ 着 + (Main) Verb 2 + Object
In a sentence that contains two actions verbs and one of them describes the main action, 着 is placed after the secondary verb to describe how the main action was carried out. These examples should help you understand better.
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.
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