In 男女结合在一起, how does the 在 work grammatically?

I'm sure it does not mean "~ing", which should be before the 结婚 (and the meaning gets awkward then).

The sentence should mean:

A man and woman got married together.

However, I don't understand for what purpose the 在 exists here.

If I omit the 在, what difference does it make?

  • "男女结合在一起" usually means they're having sex. Feb 3, 2018 at 8:21

3 Answers 3


This is the best explanation I think. In this case, prep. 在 can't be omitted. enter image description here


In this case, you have to differentiate with the meaning, instead of grammar.

In Chinese, 一起 can mean

  1. in the same place

  2. at the same time or in company.

  3. in all; altogether;

When it refers to in the same place, it has to be preceded by 在. While it refers to at the same time or in company, it will be used alone without 在. For example, 我们一起去的。When it refers to in all or altogether, it's just 一起, like 一共. For example, 这些商品一起多少钱?== 这些商品一共多少钱?

  • So should it be considered an idiom?
    – Blaszard
    Feb 1, 2018 at 13:20
  • May not be an idiom, but 在一起 is usually a set. For example, 放在一起; 生活在一起;
    – dan
    Feb 1, 2018 at 13:23
  • I understand it is used as such. But without any grammatical explanations it is difficult to get it for foreigners.
    – Blaszard
    Feb 1, 2018 at 20:03
  • @Blaszard, updated. Hope it would help.
    – dan
    Feb 2, 2018 at 0:09

'结合'(to join) is a verb and '在' is an preposition for 'into/ at/ in/ on' that indicates the 'location' the verb applies to. and the location is '一起'

A and B join in at 一起(the same place)

'结合'= join

'结合在一起' = join into one

The point is: '一起' here functions as a noun (one) instead of an adverb

Another example:

把落葉 take the fallen leaves

堆 pile (them)

在 onto

一起 one (heap)

  • We are not piling fallen leaves 'together'

  • 落葉 were piled into one (heap)

  • Isn't 一起 an adverb, right? So it doesn't need to use 在 in other cases, for example - 我可以跟你一起吃早餐. 巴黎 is a noun so it must use 在 before that.
    – Blaszard
    Feb 1, 2018 at 13:22
  • My mistake, I mixed up the preposition role of '在' as in '留(在)巴黎' - stay (in) Paris. Answer edited
    – Tang Ho
    Feb 1, 2018 at 13:33
  • Is 在used as a result particle? Maybe it is better if you have a link, but the quick Google search didn’t get me any meaningful results.
    – Blaszard
    Feb 1, 2018 at 20:05
  • After much consideration, I decided I was mistaken, '在' is actually an preposition for 'into' in this context
    – Tang Ho
    Feb 1, 2018 at 20:23

In fact, it is NOT a proper mandarin. Traditionally, Chinese never use it.

It is a bad translation perhaps by Hongkee, i.e. "May God join these man and woman together" in their soap opera.

Due to the Hongkee soap opera popularity, the bad grammar spread. It continue to pollute the language and you will find in some pop song, and even China inherit this.

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