I have come across several times reading Chinese that they repeat words twice and then again.

For an Instance what is the difference between 热闹 and 热热闹闹 ?

what is the grammar meaning when words get multiplied in that manner?

  • 1
    热闹 is an adjective, therefore its duplicated form is AABB->热热闹闹, which seems relatively common (jukuu: 12 example sentences), 一下 is used after a verb, therefore 热热闹闹一下 seems questionable,the most common duplication of AB verbs is ABAB, but 坐看 seems to be 2 verbs (sit and look) therefore 坐坐看看 seems possible, followed by 一下 therefore seems possible
    – user6065
    Dec 14, 2015 at 7:25
  • What does 热热闹闹 mean then?
    – Nulle
    Dec 14, 2015 at 8:17
  • e.g. bustling, see iciba, jukuu, etc.
    – user6065
    Dec 14, 2015 at 9:29
  • 1
    I can't tell the exact grammar but all you examples sound unnatural.
    – Stan
    Dec 14, 2015 at 10:04
  • 1
    Not a duplicate question, but there's a pretty comprehensive answer here which details many ways that repeating characters affects the meaning of the words. Dec 18, 2015 at 3:26

3 Answers 3


As a native Chinese speaker, I've never learned the AABB "grammar rule" from book. This means it's never considered as a kind of grammar rule at least in my student age.

But I don't agree with @gcd0318. There is difference between AB and AABB. In Chinese, repeating usually means emphasize the AB word, or to make the sentence sounds good to phonology.

e.g. 勤恳(diligent and conscientious) vs. 勤勤恳恳 Although they have the same mean, but use 勤勤恳恳 always make the audience feel that the speaker is highly applaud one's diligent and conscientious. Use 勤恳 doesn't have the strong emotional feeling.

Back to your example, 热热闹闹, it's the same as usage of 勤勤恳恳. It emphasize how bustling it is.

And see this great answer for usage of repeating words in Chinese.

  • XY/XXYY(/XYXY) has nothing different on meaning. emphasizing or not has nothing to do with meaning either. but sometimes XYXY may be used as predicate, which is the BIGGEST different, but you missed this point
    – gcd0318
    Dec 22, 2015 at 2:56
  • Nobody says they have different meaning, I was trying to tell the difference between repeating and nonrepeating. Repeating do express the strong feeling of the speaker or writer. In China, even a child knows to use the trick to express emotion. e.g. "妙妙,你今天玩得开心吗?", "非常非常非常非常不开心!". The more repeating 非常, the stronger feeling she wants to express.
    – thinwa
    Dec 22, 2015 at 8:12
  • please read the question before answering. "what is the grammar meaning when words get multiplied in that manner" - this is the question, which is asking grammar and meaning difference, but not emphasizing differences. you are not answering to the question but talking trash
    – gcd0318
    Dec 23, 2015 at 4:36
  • "What is the grammar meaning" means "这种语法的意义", this is my understanding, I think he was not asking for meaning of repeated words but the meaning of the usage(grammar).
    – thinwa
    Dec 23, 2015 at 8:06
  • 1
    Please keep your comments polite and relevant to the question and answer. For a longer discussion, use the chat area.
    – Don Kirkby
    Mar 9, 2016 at 4:39

I do believe there is a differential meaning in multiplied words. One important meaning is that to repeat a word or phrase in the AABB manner is to impose a fictive duration upon AB. For example, we can speak 热闹一下,but not *热热闹闹一下 because 热热闹闹 denotes a duration reading that is incompatible with the perfect meaning expressed by '一下'.


XXYY (sometimes XYXY) has nothing special comparing to XY, just an oral style. But not all adj. or adv. have such usage

  • so there is no meaning differnece between 热闹 and 热热闹闹 ?both simply means Bustling?
    – Nulle
    Dec 14, 2015 at 11:52
  • iciba/爱词霸,jukuu/句库就是线上词典。关于动词重叠的附加意义 cf."外国人实用汉语语法"(1)表示动作经历的时间短(2)表示尝试(3)表示轻松。
    – user6065
    Dec 14, 2015 at 15:19
  • 坐看 is not in 现代汉语词典 but it is in e.g. iciba,bkrs (look on with indifference, watch from the sidelines),duplicated form apparently still according to AABB, similar to 说笑、打闹、游逛、拖拉,推搡、拍打、来往、比划(which are in 现代汉语词典)、cf。"实用现代汉语语法":有时意义相关的两个词也可以这样用,如"嘻嘻哈哈"、"蹦蹦跳跳"、"吹吹拍拍"、"磕磕拌拌"、"进进出出"等。动词这样用时,形式与功能都很像形容词。
    – user6065
    Dec 14, 2015 at 17:16
  • It seems hard to find any example of duplicated verb followed by 一下,jukuu 句酷 (not 句库)has none among its 100 examples for 一下,anyhow verb duplication and 一下 following verb have similar meanings,the closest web search results to VV一下 might be 看看欣賞一下,看看 分享一下
    – user6065
    Dec 14, 2015 at 18:53
  • 2
    I don't think Chinese, natively, has meaning of part of speech like English. In traditional learning of Chinese, there was no study about grammar, which started in no earlier than Tang Dynasty. The modern grammar theory of Chinese is only for foreigners to learn, but natives never care about that. So you may feel Chinese has many grammar rules, and even more exceptions of each rule. In Chinese a noun may take the place of adj., or even verb. That's not multiple parts of speech, but just because Chinese never have concept of part of speech, which should be from western linguistic
    – gcd0318
    Dec 15, 2015 at 4:22

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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