妻子要丈夫帮她洗碗,丈夫不好意思拒绝,就把儿子叫到面前说:“孩子,现在让你练习洗碗,以后可以帮太太的忙。“ 儿子不以为然的说:“不必,以后我可以叫我儿子洗。“ 哈哈!

I found the expression '帮太太的忙‘ unusual. I presume it means here either a) 'help your wife when she is busy' or just b) 'help your wife'.

Do 帮 and 忙 work together here or are they 2 separate words?

帮忙: help, lend a hand

Does 帮忙 really mean: 'help (someone) when (they are) busy'??

  • see dictionaries: 帮太太的忙 is a 离合词 structure, 帮忙 means "help",see e.g. "现代汉语离合词用法词典"(~儿)帮人做事,泛指在别人有困难时给予帮助 [离] (1)"帮"后带助词"了"、"过'、"的"等:在碰到困难时,他是帮了忙的。/他多次为朋友帮过忙。/昨天朋友搬家,是他去帮的忙。(2)"帮"后带补语:他帮完忙才回家。/他又给我帮了半天忙。(3)"忙"提到"帮"前:看见人家有困难,你怎么连忙也不帮?(4)重叠"帮":这事还得你帮一帮忙才成。(5)"忙"前带定语:他谁的忙也不帮,就只帮你的忙。 [合] (1)合任定语:帮忙总是相互的,今天你帮我,明天我帮你。(2)合任谓语:他到朋友家帮忙去了,晚上才回来。(3)合任宾语:他是个热心人,很爱帮忙。(4)合任定语:帮忙的事,包在我身上吧。(5)合任状语:她家有了困难,大家都很热心地帮忙。 – user6065 Oct 6 '16 at 4:46
  • it seems the second 字 of a 离合词 usually is reflected in translation, e.g. 挨近 approach; get close to; sneak up on; near to,挨斗 suffer censure,挨挤 crowd together; jostle, 挨剋 get told off get licked similarly:挨批/宰/整 ,below are 3 similar to 帮忙 where this seems not to be the case: 报信 :把消息告诉有关人员或组织, to notify to inform e。g。我见那个走矢的孩子,赶紧向他家报了信, 教书 : 教学生学习功课,to teach (in a school),e.g. 我只教了两年书, 搅动 :用工具在混合物中翻动、和弄,使均匀,to mix to stir e.g. 你搅得动这桶泥浆吗? – user6065 Oct 6 '16 at 6:46
  • Your answers, for which I am very grateful, though extremely erudite are none too easy to read in this squashed up comment fashion. Would you consider answering in an answer box which you can format for simple minds like mine? – Gangosa Oct 6 '16 at 7:25
  • You can think 忙 as business instead of busy if that helps. It's derived from "busy" but mostly used figuratively, just like "business" in English. – NS.X. Oct 6 '16 at 8:46
  • there is nothing erudite about the comments of this user, they are just copied from reference works which the user very likely does not understand herself, comments are for the benefit (if any) of all users and unlike answers cannot be marked down, therefore users whose answers often have been marked down for questionable reasons wishing not to suffer more reductions of reputation have resorted to writing comments whenever possible, 该用户的评论里没有什么博学的,只不过是从她大概自己看不懂的参考工具书抄出来的。所有的评论都是为了所有的用户的利益(若有的话)而写的。 和答案不同什么评论都是不可遭遇到扣分的,有些用户因为其答案不知为何理由被扣分,就为了以后避免这样的损失,决定尽量写出评论而不是答案。 – user6065 Oct 6 '16 at 12:55

Your correct, 帮忙 just means to help (someone). It can also be split apart two word, 幫 as help and 忙 as busy.

The way the sentence is composed is in a more creative way, that uses the meaning of the characters creatively, both combined and uncombined. However, it's a common technique that shouldn't be over thought.

你可以一個嗎? vs 你可以幫忙嗎? are just two different ways of asking if you can help.

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  • I like how you bring up this topic, because in 相聲, these types of word play is commonly used and can be used in a creative + funny ways. However, in common day speech, we usually don't over think these. – 辛祐賦 hsinyofu Oct 6 '16 at 4:50
  • If I took it literally, it says: 'help wife's busy' unless 忙 could mean 'business' then by 'wife's business' this macho dad might mean 'household chores' (Women who read this, please don't be angry, I did not write it!) – Gangosa Oct 6 '16 at 5:07
  • 1
    I think what your talking about is the cultural context of words. Yes, usually when they say 小孩子要幫媽媽做家事, they are inferring to house chores, howver, for 幫媽媽的忙, though we dont want to limit it specifically to a women's household chores, because 忙 used in this sense can mean many things, its more a catch all term for "help mom out" – 辛祐賦 hsinyofu Oct 6 '16 at 5:54
  • Likewise, in more traditional cultures, the father would be the primary breadwinner. 爸爸要養家,媽媽要顧家。小孩子要幫忙做家事。the story you provided is a satire of what happens in the house. With some truth and realism to it. – 辛祐賦 hsinyofu Oct 6 '16 at 5:58
  • lol, "Your correct" should be "You're correct" – Jeffrey04 Oct 6 '16 at 9:28

just b.


“忙” 可以代指 busy ,但不完全等于busy。

帮=help (some one 的)忙=some thing need(some one) to do

“忙”’还可以作动词。 等我忙完了,我就来找你。 这里的“忙”指的是“做我急需要完成的事”

在古汉语中每一个字都可以看作是separate word。 帮忙 合在一起 ,帮=help 忙 = do。合起来还是help的意思。和是否 busy 没有必然关系。

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I am a native Chinese speaker just walk around this post...

帮忙 means to give help, and the concept "busy(忙)" inside it is minor.

In modern Chinese there are many two-character words (e.g. 帮忙) that express a simple concept that is deliverable by just one character (e.g. 帮). Two-character words are more informal and can make conversation easier. Other examples like, 词组 ~ 词, 运动 ~ 动, 学习 ~ 习

By the way, those two-character words almost never appear in ancient Chinese, which is very concise and compacted language. Only after 1910s-1920s, the "New Culture Movement" popularized the written vernacular Chinese and those two-character words were invented.

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  • 帮忙 means do someone a great favor.

  • 帮 means do something for someone.

  • 帮太太的忙 means do his wife a favor.

Do do and favor work together here or are they 2 separate words? The answer is both! why?

Do my homework for me please! (a little rude; don't you think?)

It's a great favor to me if you finish my homework! (a little arrogant and self-centered.)

can you do me a favor for finishing my homework! (sounds a little better, right?)

Thus, 帮忙 essentially means helping someone do something very important because 忙 means busy; ie, keeping someone occupied by doing this favor for you, and since Time equals money, it's a great deal.

So, use 帮忙 if you are asking a great favor, or if you are a polite person asking for a small favor.

And, use 帮 if you are asking a small favor, or if you are an arrogant person asking a big favor.

Here are some example:

  • 帮我拿杯水过来。 Pass that cup of water to me. (Small favor, use 帮 is enough)
  • 帮忙拿杯水过来。 Do me a favor, pass that cup of water to me. (Passing a cup of water will not make someone busy, thus it's too polite/inappropriate to use 帮忙 here.)
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