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mdbg.net has for zhe 着: aspect particle indicating action in progress

That implies it corresponds with -ing. Many times however, I find 着 cannot be translated in this way.

What does 着 do? What difference does it make if it were not used?

From 父亲去世了

他光着脚,手指弯曲着,失去了往日的力量。
His leg bared, fingers bent, gone his former strength.
他的眼睛紧闭着,像两个黑洞。
His eyes tightly closed, like 2 black holes.
嘴巴张着,牙齿都露了。
Mouth open, teeth revealed.

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    I think 着 is not -ing , it is -ed is better . 闭着 :closed 闭: close 张着 :opened 张 :open . Add 着 to change a verb to a adj/adv. of course sometimes maybe -ing is right,eg:他一边在关着(closing)阀门,一边在看着(looking)压力表. – chsword Oct 26 '16 at 5:33
  • 着 is a heteronym in Chinese. What you ask is pronounced "zhe", and the explanation of it is 表示动作或状态在持续。I think you can translate it into-ing in some sentence, and sometimes you can translate it into still, such as 饭还热着。which in English :The food is still hot. – Whhhhhhhhy Oct 26 '16 at 6:26
  • see grammars, e.g. "外国人实用汉语语法"动作的持续(continuous aspect of an action)一,表示动作在持续的形式|汉语里要表示一个动作或动作结果的状态在持续,可在谓语词后边加动态助词"着(zhe)"。基本格式是:主语-谓语(动词)-"着"-(宾语)|例如:他眼睛闭着。("闭"的动作在持续)那个妇女抱着一个男孩子。("抱"的动作在持续)窗户开着,门关着。("开"和"关"的动作已经完成,但"开"和"关"的状态仍在持续)她穿着一件黄衬衫。("穿"的动作已经完成,"穿"的结果的状态仍在持续)to be distinguished from 动作的进行(progressive aspect of an action, search site) 一。表示动作正在进行的形式|汉语里,要表示一个动作正在进行,可以在谓语动词前边加副词"正"、"在"或"正在",句尾加上语气助词"呢"。基本格式是:1。主语-状语(副词"正"、"在"或"正在")-谓语(动词)-(宾语)-(呢) – user6065 Oct 26 '16 at 6:54
  • 例如:他们正开会(呢)。("开会"的动作正在进行)(开会 is going on)他们在休息(呢)("休息"正在进行)(休息 is going on)她们正在晒衣服(呢)。("晒衣服"的动作正在进行)(晒衣服 is going on))他们正在调查(呢)。("调查"正在进行)(调查 is going on))动作的持续和进行可以同时发生。(continuation and progression of an action may take place simultaneously)例如: 他正打着电话呢。她在织着毛衣呢。我们正在谈着话呢, regarding in particular examples in Q, see chinese.stackexchange.com/questions/17535/… – user6065 Oct 26 '16 at 6:54
  • 饭还热着。 is ambiguous, at least without context. It can also mean "The food is still warming up." in a microwave or somewhere. – Gangosa Oct 26 '16 at 23:54
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着 is used to express that something is in the status of a verb, so it should not be progressive. For example "sitting" is 坐着.

Examples:

他光着脚,手指弯曲着,失去了往日的力量。 His leg bared(baring), fingers bent(bending), gone his former strength.

Counter-examples: 您做着什么? This one is invalid

The verb "do" is progressive(this action is changing), so 着 is not used here.

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If I say 他坐着,this instance sounds incomplete. If I say 他正坐着, it sounds complete. This contrast indicates that 着 in Chinese is merely used to indicate a duration, without involving the tense relating to the now.

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It's like a "to be participle". It's not actually "to be -ing".

Compare: 门开着。 The door is opened.
他在开门呢。 He is opening the door.

You can understand it as a -ing construction only if it follows another verb. In that case, it's like someone does something while doing something.

For example:
他开着门开灯了。 He turned the lights on while opening the door.

Hope this helps. Cheers.

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