This text is 囊萤照读。 In this short text I found 5 'verb 了 verb' repetitions:


Do these just indicate repeated action?

Or is it 'verb 了 noun':
擦了擦: wipe a wipe
晃了晃: shake a shake
揉了揉: rub a rub
挪了挪: move a move
摇了摇: shake a shake


1 Answer 1

  1. [verb]+[verb]

Repeat a same verb once, is called 'redoubling'. A redoubled verb indicates the action happens in a slight degree and a short duration.


點頭 ( nod head); 點點頭 ( nod head slightly)

試 (try); 試試 (try a little )

看 (look); 看看 (look briefly)

  1. [verb]+[counting word]+ [ verb]

In the cases of a verb following by a counting word and then the same verb again, the repeated verb is actually a [verb classifier]


點頭 (nod head); 點一點頭 (nod one nod/ nod head once)

試 (try); 試一試 (try one try / try once )

看 (look); 看一看 (look one look / look once )

  1. The particle following a verb indicate 'completion'


點了一點頭 (nodded one nod/ nodded head once)

試了一試 (tried one try / tried once )

看了一看 (looked one look / looked once )

Now come to your question: what [verb]+了+[verb] indicate?

It is similar to point (3) with the counting word omitted.

點了點頭 = 點了(一)點頭

試了試 = 試了(一)試

看了看 = 看了(一)看

  • 很感谢!“ the repeated verb is actually a [verb classifier]“ I thought the second verb might actually be meant as a noun, but I didn't think it might be a classifier! Can you elaborate please?
    – Pedroski
    Commented May 15, 2017 at 21:50
  • Let's replace the first verb 'look' to make it easier.... In"take one look." 'take' is a verb, 'one' is a counting verb, and 'look' is not a noun but a verb acting as a classifier. The counting word one is counting how many times the subject looked at something.
    – Tang Ho
    Commented May 16, 2017 at 3:05
  • Another example, in '切一切' (cut one cut) the first 切 is a verb (to cut) and 一切 (one cut) counting how many times the action 'cut' occur, and the answer is one time. - if it is 切幾切, then it means 'cut a few times'
    – Tang Ho
    Commented May 16, 2017 at 3:10
  • Aha, now I understand, 很感谢!
    – Pedroski
    Commented May 16, 2017 at 21:59

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