Using 着 to provide a durative background

August 22, 2010, 12:43 AM posted in I Have a Question

'Mandarin Chinese - A Functional Grammar' gives the following example on the use of 着:

小狗摇着尾巴跑了。(Xiǎogǒu yáozhe wěiba pǎo le.)

Would it be possible to say this the other way round?

ie. 小狗跑着摇了尾巴。(Xiǎogǒu pǎozhe yáo le wěiba.)

Similarly, could their other examples be switched:

他光着脚上课。(Tā guāngzhe jiǎo shàngkè.)

... 他上着课光脚。(Tā shàngzhe kè guāng jiǎo.)

他哭着跑回家去了。(Tā kūzhe pǎo huíjiā qù le.)

... 他跑着回家去哭了。(Tā pǎozhe huíjiā qù kū le.)

那张画得登着椅子挂。(Nèi zhāng huà děi dēngzhe yǐzi guà.)

... (not sure how I'd reverse this one)

他躺着看报。(Tā tǎngzhe kàn bào.)

... (again not sure - perhaps reduplicate 躺)

Also, is this use of 着 equivalent to saying 一边 ... 一边 ... ?

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August 23, 2010, 01:34 AM

Hey go_manly,

I'm not a native speaker so, as always, grains of salt required, but my understanding of the use of 着 that you're showing here is that it indicates something that happens throughout the time the other verb is occurring, and that it's supplementary information that could be removed without altering the main point of the sentence. That makes it different from 一边。。。一边。。。 because the actions in that construction are often not actually occurring simultaneously (i.e., 一边吃一边聊, you're not actually talking with your mouth full :)), though they could be. 

In some of your examples, too, the 着 is indicating a state, so for instance 他光着脚上课 works because his feet are bare the entire time he's attending class, where as if you reversed it he'd be attending class the entire time he was baring his feet?? Doesn't really work. 

I think you could reverse 小狗摇着尾巴跑了, in that case the wagging of his tail would be the primary verb being focused on, rather than running, which is probably not the point being expressed in the majority of cases.






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August 23, 2010, 08:09 AM


A verb with "zhe" followed by another verb expresses the mode of the second action. 

I think Johnb's explanation is perfect.