I am writing one project about an aspect in Chinese, but I have some difficulties in the Chinese variant of Continuous.

Could you please explain me a difference between the meaning of there 3 sentences: 1. 他在吃饭呢。 2. 他在吃饭。 3. 他吃饭呢。

Thank you for helping! :)

  • 3
    They are exact same, that means: He is eating. '呢' is just for adjusting rhythm of pronunciation, add one more character but change the last word more weak and shorten then original, slowly and save efforts, and sometimes try our best to prevent from keeping your mouth opening (i.e. pronouncing '啊'-like characters) for a long period at end of a statement. Mar 30, 2017 at 1:11

3 Answers 3


The difference is due to 在 and 呢.

在 here is an adverb. It means "in the process of doing something".

呢 is a modal particle. Since you use period instead of the question mark, they are declarative sentences. 呢 indicates the notion that an action is in progress. 呢 also expresses the confirmation or emphasis on the facts.

  1. 他在吃饭呢。 What he is doing is eating meal.
    This sentence indicates that the action of eating is in progress, and emphasizes the action.

  2. 他在吃饭。 He is eating meal.
    This sentence simply shows that the action of eating is in progress. It does not emphasize the action.

  3. 他吃饭呢。 He eats meal.
    This sentence emphasizes the action of eating. It does not indicate that the action is in progress.

  • in fact no diff for meaning. 呢just changes the rhythm orally
    – gcd0318
    Mar 30, 2017 at 11:05

呢 at the end of the sentence is used when you expect the listener don't know the issue and will be somehow a bit surprised at knowing it.



A: Do you know what he is doing?
B: Oh, he is eating.

A don't know the fact and B expects that A would be surprised at knowing the fact, so B used 呢.


实际上。。。在书面语中,这三个几乎没有区别,呢表示强调 A问:他干啥呢 B回答这三种都是合乎语境的

我们口语很少说“呢” 所以一般是说:他在吃饭

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