Let's discuss 在, 着, 再 and 又

October 28, 2009, 06:28 AM posted in General Discussion

This is two questions, but I feel they're a bit related.

1: What is the difference between "她在看电视" and "她看着电视"? I've learned that both those contructions would mean "-ing", so is there any difference between using '在' and '着'?

2: Same question, but with '再' and '又'. What's the difference between "她再看电视" and "她又看电视"?

The reason I feel the two questions are related is because you can't actually hear the difference between the first sentences in eaxh question. Do you simply avoid confusion by using '着' and '又' instead of '在' and '再' in cases where context is ambiguous? And when you need to say "She's watching TV again", I'm guessing you wouldn't say "她再在看电视", but rather "她又在看电视" or "她再看着电视", or even "她又看着电视".

I'm sure I've misunderstood the usage of some of these characters. Please do point that out. And any pointers on the usage of any of these four characters in their "-ing" and "again" functions would be appreciated.

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October 28, 2009, 06:48 AM

See this is why I say certain posts here need to be easily findable somehow. Simon I think you'll find this discussion from a few months ago interesting and very valuable.

I don't mean btw that you shouldn't have asked your questions here again. I just think it's a shame if many people never know of that post by Xiaophil which yielded meticulous responses particularly from Jiaojie laoshi and also from other native speakers and fellow learners.

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October 28, 2009, 07:10 AM

又: "Indicates the re-occurrence of any action/activity, or continuous repitition. In most cases it refers to a past event".


Also indicates expected repetition.


再:"Indicates the repetition or the continuation of an action. It only refers to an action that has not yet come about".



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October 28, 2009, 07:18 AM

zhenlijian: Oh, yeah, that's a very helpful thread. I'm looking through it now. Here's a gem I found, written by lujiaojie (thought the first phrase is quoted from changye):

"在看书" connotes "action in progress", and “看着书” connotes more of a feeling "continuing of situation/action". (correct)

About 着:
Some verbs are not continuous, so you can't say "在...". For example, 老师站着,学生坐着。can not be 老师在站,学生在坐。

We always say 空调开着-the air conditioner is on," to show its status.

空调在开,sounds like 空调 can turn on by itself.

This helps me get the difference. Good stuff.


Ah, yeah, that makes sense. Now I get why "她再看电视" sounds weird. Thanks a lot.

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October 28, 2009, 07:23 AM

Hi zhenlijiang

How can you always find relevant comments and threads posted in the past? That's just amazing. I even forget about comments I posted before.

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October 28, 2009, 08:05 AM

Changye, how would you say ”永久保存版” in Chinese? We Japanese do like to set things apart like that don't we.
Not sure about the English, am thinking about it now.

Simon, yes that thread has good stuff.
Do look at the links too, to the discussions that preceded that thread.

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October 28, 2009, 08:09 AM


You are the answer to our 'search' problem discussed on the other thread!!  I'm sure you'd be happy to donate your time, circulate contact details etc.! At least the new search function when we get it should be dedicated to you along the lines of 

Zhenlijiang找到了的地方。。。 :-) 

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October 28, 2009, 09:19 AM

or just plain 我不敢!

I am happy to help when I can of course.