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曾经 has already been well explained here, but I sometimes see

...曾 verb...

as opposed to

...曾经 verb...

Is there a difference in meaning or usage?

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2  
No difference in meaning or usage. –  Stan Aug 6 '13 at 14:37
    
So is there any reason I would use 曾经 instead of 曾, for instance prosody? –  tao Aug 6 '13 at 16:42
4  
Prosody would be one of the reasons. Details are subtle. Just be aware of that 1) the negative term should only be 不曾 (不曾经 as "not ever" is wrong); 2) practically, I hear 曾经 in spoken Mandarin and Cantonese more often. (That's enough. If you wanna know a little more...) 曾经 in ancient Chinese is 曾(once, ever)+经(experience, 经历/体验), e.g. 曾经沧海难为水 (Having ever experienced the ocean, one can hardly call water elsewhere as water). As the meaning of "经(experience)" is general, in modern Chinese, 曾经 becomes a word, so you can even say 他 曾经 经历过 地震 = 他 曾 经历过 地震. –  Stan Aug 6 '13 at 17:42
    
@Stan - Why not add your comments as answers? They are usually answer quality. –  xiaohouzi79 Aug 7 '13 at 1:29
1  
@xiaohouzi79 because I think they are usually fragments, or have too much subjective content, thus couldn't answer the question very well. –  Stan Aug 7 '13 at 1:38

3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

There are many verbs and adverbs in Chinese that hold the exact meaning without the second character. Chinese words have a more complete sound to them when they are in pairs of two characters, but it's not necessary to use the verb or adverb in its complete form.

我也曾(经)涉足于多个领域,可惜学业不精。

他已(经)20岁了,已(经)到及冠之年,是个大人了。

好久没有这样安恬熟睡(觉)了。

Having the two different choices though gives the speaker more control over making the sentence sound more fluid, generally by pairing single character words with the single character form, and using the full verb with two character form.

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1  
Is 曾经 a verb? I thought it was an adverb. –  tao Aug 7 '13 at 15:14
2  
@tao Definitely adverbial. Will see if QM would log in to change it, otherwise I will modify it for you. –  deutschZuid Aug 7 '13 at 19:34

曾 can be used with the same meaning as 曾经

But one occasion is noteworthy: 不曾 - where you can't use 不曾经

Thanks for undeleting me. I wanted originally to post this answer as a comment. But I'm a new user here, while it requires 50 reputation to post a comment.

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2  
@Growler - It might be helpful for you to leave a comment for new users when deleting answers. The hope is they will improve their answer and keep using the site. –  xiaohouzi79 Aug 7 '13 at 1:27

plus, 曾 can not be used instead of 曾经, and 曾经 can not be used instead of 曾 here,

曾经,我犯了一个错。
曾几何时,我学会了抽烟。

In conclusion, when you use "曾经" in the middle of one sentence, you can always use "曾" instead. Otherwise, you can not.

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This is not really a good example. 曾几何时 is a 文言词语 by itself. –  杨以轩 Aug 8 '13 at 3:15
    
@QuestionOverflow, no, "曾几何时" has been used as a modern phrase now by many Chinese, like me. There are so many phrases like this, for example, "时光荏苒,岁月如梭". –  Hize Aug 8 '13 at 3:29
    
Yes I think everybody should keep this in mind! "曾,我犯了一个错。" is a good example to show 曾经can not always be substituded by 曾经 –  zyc Aug 8 '13 at 18:16

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