Sign up ×
Chinese Language Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for students, teachers, and linguists wanting to discuss the finer points of the Chinese language. It's 100% free, no registration required.

It seems like for some verbs (正)在 is used to indicate action in progress, but I have also encountered 着 for some, like 穿着. When should it be used, is there a rule to follow?

share|improve this question

3 Answers 3

up vote 7 down vote accepted

This is used for both actions in progress and things that are happening in present tense, such as "she is wearing a dress".

I sometimes equate this to the -ing suffix.



He (She) is wearing a suit and playing guitar


Help me look out for him (her) (at this moment)


See him carrying such a big thing

However, this is not used as -ing with actions as you would expect:

This is wrong:


The 着 here should be applied to the 游 i.e.






share|improve this answer
他正弹着吉他 is better than 他在弹着吉他, though I can't say 他在弹着吉他 is not correct. – congliu Aug 25 '13 at 9:54

着 when used between two verbs signifies that the first action accompanies the second (main) action.

我喜欢躺着听音乐。 I like to listen to music lying down

他坐着看电视。 He sits watching television

share|improve this answer
I agree. Like an adverb. – congliu Aug 25 '13 at 9:59
  1. Indicating action in progress.

    As shown by @xiaohouzi79's answer.

  2. Accompanying another major action.

    As shown by @trideceth12's answer.

  3. Special usage

    Sometimes, neither of the above two can tell the whole story. For example,

    走着瞧 (zǒu zhe qiáo) which roughly means Let's wait and see.

    你看着办吧 (nǐ kàn zhe bàn ba) which roughly means It's up to you.

    You can say it falls to case 1 in some sense. But I feel it's used as a whole, like an idiom.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.