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Translation: Let's put the quilt away.

In other circumstances, 起来 means to get up but here there is a different meaning, and from the definitions I can't decide which definition is used here.

  1. used after a verb indicating beginning and continuation of an action or a state

  2. indicating an upward movement

  3. after a perception verb expressing preliminary judgement

  4. bringing things together


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I would group it in "收起" rather than "起来" since the former should mean "to put away". (Commenting since this doesn't really address what the "来" is for.) – Maroon Jun 9 '14 at 20:43

This 起来 serves as the resultative complement of 收.

It is required because you cannot say “把被子收_吧”. You must specify in what state you want to put the 被子 via the action 收. e.g. 把被子收进屋子里, 把被子收到柜子里, etc.

You can say “把被子收走” or “把被子收了”, too. The choices of complements make slight difference.

For some reason, when 起 is not followed by an object, you must put 来 or other verbs or prepositions after it. e.g. it's possible to say 收起被子, but you have to say 把被子收起来. (Some speakers may accept 把被子收起, but it sounds a little stilted and incomplete to me. Another similar particle is 回, which is often accompanied by 去. But 把被子收回 still sounds acceptable to me.)

I think the closest definition out of the four is:

1. used after a verb indicating beginning and continuation of an action or a state

This 起来 in 收起来 indicates that, after the completion of the action 收, the blanket is in a temporary state such as protection or preservation. It may sound redundant, but is required by the Chinese grammar.

起 can be consider as “to happen/to arise”, which by itself has almost no meaning. But if you look at many similar collocations like 收起, 亮起, 挂起, 升起, 隆起, 突起, etc. It might be related to another meaning, too:

2. indicating an upward movement

Also, don't confuse 把被子收起来 with 收起被子来. The latter means he starts to put the blanket away, which is extremely unlikely to be used in daily conversations. 收起(了)被子 can express the same meaning in many contexts without 来. I don not know what exactly is the function of 来. But this does not have much to do with your question.

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起来 doesn't make too much difference. You can say 收被子, and it's perfectly understood. The only (subtle) difference may be that 收被子 is usually said with a more imperative tone.

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  1. 你 把它 {收,提,拿} 起來

  2. 你 站 起來

  3. 你 起來

in 1 and 2, 起來 is used as an adverb.

in 3, it is used as a verb.

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It's this one:

  1. used after a verb indicating beginning and continuation of an action or a state

As you said in your question, when attached behind a verb, the phrase 起來 indicates "starting, beginning, about to happen". In this case, therefore, 把被子收起来吧 means "lets start putting the quills away".

In the same manner, 起來 is used in other common phrases to indicate the start of an action. For example, 站起來 means "to stand up", whereas 站 by itself only means "to stand. Similarly, 飛起來 means "to lift off", while 飛 by itself would only mean "to fly".

So when on a plane taxing and lifting off, you could say 正要飛起來 (we're taking off). Once the plane is in mid-flight, you'd have to say 正在飛 (we're flying) instead.

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I don't quite agree that it can be translated as "starting" in this case... – Derek 朕會功夫 Jun 10 '14 at 15:12
It's what it means, however. You can omit the "starting" bit in translations though, it would still be the same meaning: "lets put the quills away" basically means lets start doing that. – Semaphore Jun 10 '14 at 15:32
Okay let's look at another example. If I say 他停下來了, I believe there's no way you can fit the translation "starting" in it. Same goes to 收起來. – Derek 朕會功夫 Jun 10 '14 at 15:42
Sorry? I'm not sure what 停下來's translation has to do with what 起來 means. – Semaphore Jun 10 '14 at 16:05
Isn't 收起來 a combination of 收起+來? The meaning of 來 should be the same in both cases. – Derek 朕會功夫 Jun 10 '14 at 16:49

Yes, it's this one:

    1. used after a verb indicating beginning and continuation of an action or a state

I would argue that the key word in this sentence is 把 (which means to dispose of something). As such, 起来 indicates the beginning of the 把 action which ends in the object, in this case a quilt, being "stored" away.

把 and 起来 often collocate. When paired, these words determine the beginning (起来) and the end (把) of a designated action.

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"4. bringing things together" sounds the most close one to me. However, it's more accurate to take it as "used after a verb (not any verb, usually those involving putting something away e.g. 收,叠,包,藏,躲) indicating the completion of action or fulfillment of intention, very similar to up as in wrap up the gift".

A rough procedure applicable to most cases:

Regarding Verb+起来

If the verb itself indicates some upward movement physically or metaphorically, then "起来 -> 2. indicating an upward movement":

physically: 把他举起来 = Lift him up

metaphorically: 我想不起来了 = I can't recall (his name, my phone number, etc.)

If the verb is a perception verb, then "起来 -> 3. used after a perception verb expressing preliminary judgement":

这朵花闻起来很香 = This flower smells good

If the verb involves putting something away, then "起来 -> 4. used after a verb indicating the completion of action or fulfillment of intention":

让我们把礼物包起来吧 = Let's wrap up the gift

Else, "起来 -> 1. used after a verb (or adjective) indicating beginning and continuation of an action or a state"

action: 他们打起来了 = They've started to fight (each other)

state: 天气冷起来了 = It started to get cold

The second definition seems the most fundamental one from which other meanings have developed. Therefore it's understandable that some dictionaries (e.g. iciba definition ③) take 我想不起来了 as an instance for the fourth definition mentioned above, leaving the most fundamental definition more physical/pure.

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來 means "to bring something back". 收起來 therefore means "to put it back [to its original place]" or simply "to put away".

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來 means "to come". I don't think it has any connotations for bringing back. – Semaphore Jun 10 '14 at 11:40

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