Serial verb constructions are several verbs in sequence constituting one single predicate to describe a whole event.

Example from Wikipedia: 我(I) 坐(sit) 飞机(aircraft) 从(depart) 上海(Shanghai) 到(arrive) 北京(Beijing) 去(travel)

我 坐飞机从上海到北京去

  • 从 is not a verb, it means 'from' in this context. Also 到 means "to".
    – Xiaoge Su
    Oct 27, 2014 at 18:46
  • I thought the same, and i am still not 100 % sure, but it was on wikipedia and when i looked up cong2 and dao4 beside the translation as prepositon there also were verbs: to depart for cong2 and to arrive for dao4. Oct 27, 2014 at 19:44
  • In English, we definitively have lots of words that can be used as both noun and verb. In Chinese, same applies. e.g. 将炙啖朱亥 (bring barbecue meat and let someone named 朱亥 eat), here 炙 is a noun when saying "meat cooked by barbecue"; however it can be a verb, "barbecue".
    – Xiaoge Su
    Oct 27, 2014 at 22:50

1 Answer 1


Wikipedia has several categories of serialization. I'll try to provide one example for each. With my lousy word-for-word translations. Note that there is no strict definition of the categories; Even serialization itself don't have a strict definition.


From 《老子》:

道可道,非常道。 -- Tao can tell, not common tao.

Verbal complements

In one of 元稹's poem:

垂死病中惊坐起 -- Almost dying sickness inside shockingly sat got-up.


In 苏轼's 《水调歌头》:

我欲乘风归去 -- I want take wind return leave.

Other cases

王安石's poem:

明月何时照我还 -- Bright moon what time shine me return.

  • 馬王堆帛書老子甲本和乙本 (Two old versions of Tao Te Ching in Han Dynasty) both read 「道,可道也,非恒道也。名,可名也,非恒名也」. Thus 「非常道」 doesn't mean "not common tao" but "tao is not constant". In the era of Emperor Wen of Han (his name was 劉恒), to avoid the naming taboo of the emperor, 非恒道 was replaced by 非常道, although indeed, it became confusing.
    – Stan
    Nov 7, 2014 at 15:55
  • @Stan I don't think talking about classical texts too antique is appropriate, especially Zhanguo texts where they possibly used dialects and variations of classical Chinese to express ideas... Nov 7, 2014 at 20:22
  • @Stan Interesting fact, and you are probably right. I'm no expert in classical Chinese. I just picked what first came into my mind. Nov 8, 2014 at 3:14
  • @JosephSWU This case is not related to dialects and variations. 常 is also a synonym to 恒. The modification from "非恒道" to "非常道" is a well-known case, and the consensus for the reason can be found among scholars.
    – Stan
    Nov 9, 2014 at 7:32
  • Good to be scientism. I post a photocopy in the chat room :)
    – Stan
    Nov 9, 2014 at 7:47

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