Our Chinese book contains this problem:

enter image description here

I'm interested in the first example.

Wǒ bù rènshì zhège zì, wǒ xiǎng yòng nǐ de cídiǎn.

It translates to "I don't recognize this character. I want to use your dictionary." This is rude to say, so we're mean to use one of the structures above to soften it.

So the alternatives are


My experience suggests that 用一下 (yòng yīxià) is preferable to 用一用 (yòng yī yòng) or 用用 (yòng yòng). Intuitively, 用用 seems very strange to me. However, the solution given by the teacher was 用用, although the others were considered possible. So I want to clear this up.

Question: Is 用一下 preferable to 用用 or 用一用?

  • 4
    No one is preferable to the other two. All of them works for all the sentences in your picture.
    – fefe
    Apr 10, 2018 at 0:20
  • 3
    they are totally exchangeable, use whichever you like. Apr 10, 2018 at 1:34
  • All are correct but I tend to believe 用用 is colloquial short for 用一用 instead of a different syntactic construct, hence it's even more casual than 用一下/用一用, and when you write it down it should become 用一用 on paper, unless it's embraced in quotes as a verbatim citation of someone's saying.
    – NS.X.
    Apr 10, 2018 at 7:07

2 Answers 2


All of them are suitable for the sentence, the difference is very subtle.

“用一下” is kinda formal, you can use this word in almost any occasion, having conversation with your friends, your boss, it's all fine.

"用用" and “用一用” is a little bit casual than "用一下".

But just like I said, the difference is so subtle that most people won't really care about it, especially if you're a foreigner.


Different people may have different opinions. This is more about personal preference other than generic one.

I actually agree with your intuition. I would use 用一下, which sounds more casual to me. This is because 用 sometimes connotes that you use someone as a tool or something, which is not that good, so I'd avoid to use more 用s.

To further soften your tone, you can use the interrogative sentences. Like, 我不认识这个字,我想用一下你的词典, 可以吗?or 我不认识这个字,我能用一下你的词典吗?

  • I agree - I would think that the request phrased as a question would be softer. 我不認識這個字,可以用用你的字典嗎?
    – judester
    May 1, 2018 at 1:46

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