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So first off, I feel I should specify I am a beginner at Chinese. In my Chinese class, we were asked to write down a progressive question, using the 在...(呢) format. My question was, 你们没在去吗? which I interpreted as, "aren't you going?". Another student asked a similar question, with the verb 回来. My teacher said that in Chinese, 去 and 回来 are not used with 在 to become progressive. Why are these verbs exceptions and what other verb have the same exception?

  • Next time you ask your teacher if this is right: 「我在去/回北京的路上。 (I'm on my way to/back to Beijing.) 」, then watch how your teacher responses :) – Travis Hu Dec 1 '16 at 5:18
  • From what I remember, she said that you could use it when a specific location is involved, but if you just try to say something like, 他正在去呢, that isn't right. – N.D.H. Dec 1 '16 at 6:00
  • 我在路上 -> 我在(回北京的)路上 -- " 回北京的" is the adjective phrase for 路 – Tang Ho Dec 1 '16 at 6:02
  • But why is 他正在去呢 wrong? – N.D.H. Dec 1 '16 at 6:12
  • It needs something after: you can say 我正在去。。。。的途中 or 我正在去。。。的路上 – user3306356 Dec 1 '16 at 7:29
10

The answer is "habit".
Because we don't write or talk in that way.

For example, both 肥 and 胖 mean "fat".
We call a fat person as 胖子.
肥子 is not usual because we don't have the habit.

He is going to school.
We translate it into 他在去學校的途中.
We don't have the habit to say 他在去學校.

That fat guy is going to school.
那胖子在去學校的路上。
??? 那肥子在去學校。 ???

Besides 去 and 來, 返, 歸, 往 and 到 are also included.
These verbs are used together with something like "on the way (途中/路上)" to express the progressive tense.

回 is acceptable. For instance,
Q: "他有沒有回電話?" (Did he call back?)
A: "他正在回。" (He is calling back.)

  • I apologize for asking this but I am a bit of a novice to the language. I have only encountered 的 with possession, adjectives, and the 是。。。的 construction. What does 的 mean in these sentences? – N.D.H. Dec 1 '16 at 15:52
  • 1. You don't have to apologize. This site is made particularly for the beginners. 2. 的 is a particle of a possessive or an adjective. Please search this site for "possessive 的" and "adjective 的". 3. 的 is used at the end of a declarative sentence for emphasis. See also: When should I use the 是…的 construction? 4. Please google "How to use 的 in Chinese". – user-487 Dec 1 '16 at 20:54
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Because “去” is an achievement verb - it is instantaneous. English has tenses such as "going", but Chinese has no tenses in that respect. The lexical meaning of QU is more like "remove" than it is like the English "go". The action of "qu" is instantaneous, so you cannot make it progressive.

"Lai" is the same. It's instantaneous. 回來 modifies how the person is "lai", but the main verb is still "lai" and is instantaneous.

In your translation of "aren't you going?", a better way to say that would be "你們不是要去嗎“。Something like, "Aren't you going to go?"

I see some people have responded with talking about the locative "zai". These are different meaning of "zai". If you say 我在去北京的路上,it is saying "I am on the way to Beijing". The zai means you are literally ON the road. It is not the progressive zai, although the intended meaning is similar in that you're saying you're currently on the way.

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I second Travis Hu's comment, look here nearly 1600 results:

http://ce.linedict.com/dict.html#/cnen/example?query=%E5%9C%A8%E5%8E%BB

We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.

  • 1
    This does not provide an answer to the question. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post. - From Review – KWeiss Dec 1 '16 at 8:04
  • Personally, I find nearly 1600 examples of the use of 在去 a powerful argument for this usage, albeit some of them may be erroneous. I consider ce.linedict.com to be a serious webpage. Maybe you did not read the question properly. – Gangosa Dec 4 '16 at 0:35

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