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I came across this phrase 爱慕虚荣 today in a piece of writing. When I use Goggle translate it tells me 爱慕虚荣 means "vain", but 虚荣 by itself also means "vain" and when I search for "vain" and ask for the Chinese translation I only get provided with "虚荣".

So does adding 爱慕 at the front change either the meaning or connotation?

Is 爱慕虚荣 commonly used when speaking or is it better to just use 虚荣?

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爱慕 means admire, 虚 means false, 荣 means glory. –  Question Overflow Sep 18 '13 at 6:49
    
Can you tell us more info about that piece of writing where you came across 爱慕虚荣? –  congliu Sep 27 '13 at 15:17

2 Answers 2

虚荣 is a noun as well, meaning vanity. Now it's easy to get what 爱慕虚荣 means -- pursuing superficial things. 爱慕虚荣 sounds more literary. When referring to the character of a person, it is fine to say both 她是一个爱慕虚荣的人 and 她是一个虚荣的人. Both are common. The choice of the word also depends on the actual construction of the sentence. If there are other two-character words used in parallel, such as "他虚荣,自负,贪婪", in which you wouldn't want to use 爱慕虚荣 because it'll break the (sort of) rhythm of the sentence.

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However, in a construct of 2-character words in parallel, if you put a longer word in the last slot, it becomes emphasis instead of just inconsistency. E.g. 他自负,贪婪,爱慕虚荣。 –  NS.X. Sep 26 '13 at 7:28

So does adding 爱慕 at the front change either the meaning or connotation?

"爱慕虚荣"——"爱慕" is a transitive verb, while "虚荣" is a noun. From the syntax, it belongs to "V(t)—O" (Transitive Verb+Object)

Compared with this, "虚荣" is just a noun.

Formally speaking, you can use "爱慕虚荣" to make a whole sentence correctly:

我爱慕虚荣 (I love vainity/I'm fallen in vainity). S-V-O

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