2016-01-31newbie

Would you like some goldfish tea?

In Taiwan, there is a type of tea bag which transforms into the shape of a goldfish when put in hot water. You can see it in action in the video below.

Cute, right? OK, now that we're in a good mood from watching the video, let’s begin today’s lesson. In this lesson, we will learn two grammar patterns used together with verbs.

In the video, you can see that by pulling the string attached to the tea bag, you can make the "goldfish" swim back and forth. Let’s learn how to say this in Chinese.

Hover over any word to show translation
you (informal)
dòng yí dòng
动一动
動一動
to move a bit
that
gēn
classifier for long slender objects
lián
to link, to connect
zhe
aspect particle indicating action in progress
chá bāo
茶包
茶包
tea bag
de
(used after an attribute)
xiàn
线
thread, string
 
hái
in addition, also
kě yǐ
可以
可以
can, may
ràng
to have sb do sth
 
jīn yú
金鱼
金魚
goldfish
 
zài
(located) at, (to be) in
chá
tea
inside
yóu
to swim
lái
to come
yóu
to swim
to go
 
fēi cháng
非常
非常
extreme, very
hǎo wán
好玩
好玩
amusing, fun
 

By moving about the string attached to the tea bag, you can make the "goldfish" swim back and forth in an amusing way.

Character set
Pinyin

Verb + 一 + Verb

In the sentence above, “动一动[dòng yí dòng]” means “move a bit ”. It’s today’s first grammar pattern.
This pattern is used to express that something is done just a little bit or lightly. You must use the same verb on front and back of “一”。 For example:

  • 听一听[tīng yì tīng] listen a bit
  • 闻一闻[wén yì wén] smell a bit
  • 想一想[xiǎng yì xiǎng] think a bit
  • 看一看[kàn yí kàn] look a bit

Note the tone for “一”. When the following character is first, second or third tone, “一” is read yì, but when the verb is fourth tone, “一” becomes yí. This might seem complicated, but if you practice the sentence below it might get easier, because the sentence contains all the tone combinations.

Hover over any word to show translation
hěn
very
duō
many, often
shí hou
时候
時候
time
 
zhǐ
only, just
yào
must
wǒ men
我们
我們
we, us
děng
to wait
one
děng
to wait
 
jiù
just (emphasis)
ān quán
安全
安全
safe, secure
le
(completed action marker)
 
ràng
to yield, to permit
one
ràng
to yield, to permit
 
jiù
just (emphasis)
guò qu
过去
過去
to go over, to pass by
le
(completed action marker)
 
kàn
to see, to look at
one
kàn
to see, to look at
 
jiù
just (emphasis)
míng bai
明白
明白
clear, obvious
le
(completed action marker)
 
tīng
to listen, to hear
one
tīng
to listen, to hear
 
jiù
just (emphasis)
zhī dào
知道
知道
to know, to become aware of
le
(completed action marker)
 
wén
to smell, to sniff at
one
wén
to smell, to sniff at
 
jiù
just (emphasis)
qīng chu
清楚
清楚
clear, distinct
le
(completed action marker)
 
xiǎng
to think
one
xiǎng
to think
 
jiù
just (emphasis)
wù chū
悟出
悟出
to realize, to be enlightened
le
(completed action marker)
 

Often times, we just need to wait a little, and it will be safe. Compromise a bit, and we can proceed. Look a bit, and it will become clear. Smell a bit, and we will know. Ask a little, and it will become clear. Think for a while, and we will realize.

Character set
Pinyin

Got it? Not too difficult, right?

Verb + 来[lái] + Verb + 去[qù]

Now let's have a look at another grammar pattern which repeats the same verb twice, also present in the first sentence above. Can you find it? It is “游来游去[yóu lái yóu qù]”(swim back and forth).

This structure can be used when you want to say that you are doing something without a clear direction. It is similar to the English expressions "this way and that", "here and there", etc. The same verb is repeated before both 来[lái] and 去 [qù]. For example:

  • 跑来跑去[pǎo lái pǎo qù] run here and there
  • 走来走去[zǒu lái zǒu qù] walk here and there
  • 看来看去[kàn lái kàn qù] look here and there
  • 想来想去[xiǎng lái xiǎng qù] think here and there

Let’s practice.

Hover over any word to show translation
xiǎo péng you
小朋友
小朋友
child
men
plural marker for pronouns, and nouns referring to individuals
zài
(located) at, (to be) in
gōng yuán
公园
公園
park
inside
pǎo
to run
lái
to come
pǎo
to run
to go
 

The children are in the park running here and there.

Character set
Pinyin

That's it for today’s lesson about verb grammar patterns. Did you find it useful?
See you next time!