In the following sentence:


I think the sentence would mean something like the following:

奏月's family started the tofu business from grandfather's age. 奏月's father cannot understand why his daughter want to follow what her grandfather did, even if she had a bachelor degree. It's not a good job.

But I don't understand how it works grammatically on the bolded part. Specifically,

  • 要: auxiliary verb, to mean "will" or "going to"
  • 回过头来走: should be verb
  • 老一辈的路: the path of her grandfather

Now, about the verb phrase:

  • If 回 is a verb and 过 is a past particle, what does 头来走, specifically 头 mean?

  • If 过 is a part of 过头 (go beyond the limit), what does 来走 mean here? Is it a particle? So 回 (come) and 过头 (go beyond the limit) and 来走 combined, it is something like the will + come + to go beyond the limit + to take the path of (来走), right? Or does 来 work as to~ (in the form of V + 来 + V), and not a particle?

  • Also, if 过头 is a verb here, what does the sentence mean at all? I feel go beyond the limit is quite an awkward here...

3 Answers 3



This is how it breaks down: (added spaces)

为啥 要 回过头来 走老一辈的路

为啥 means 为什么

要 here means “to want"

回过头来 - here, the verb is 回, the object is 头 and the complement of direction is 过来. When complements of direction are used with objects, the object goes in the middle, so we get 回过头来. Or you could just learn this as a set four character phrase (see here for more examples: http://www.jukuu.com/search.php?q=回过头来).

走老一辈的路 is just 走路 with some extra information added about which 路 the subject is 走ing.

So the overall translation is

Zou Yue's father can't understand why his daughter, having finished university, would want to go back and follow the same path as as the older generation and do this kind of hard and unrewarding work.


"回过头来走" should be interpreted as 回(过)头 - 来 - 走. Then

回头 - turn round
来 - to
走 - go/follow

is used for denoting the completeness status.


Your understanding of the whole sentence is correct; but you lost the meaning of "回过头来" (turn round backward). 奏月's father is confusing; his daughter has graduated from college and could engage in some modern, advanced or easy job definitely. But she still decided to take tofu making as the work, even it's old, and hard.

  • I don't think this is correct. 过 is not functioning as a grammar particle here, rather it is part of the 过来 result complement (meaning "to come back"). 回过头来 means 把头回过来. Apr 23, 2018 at 8:40

The Zou family have been in the tofu business since their grandfather's time,
but Zou Yue's father cannot understand why,
after his daughter graduated from university,
she wanted to come back to this old way of life,
to do this kind of hard work.

why want turn back to walk this old way of life

苦 hard
差事 job

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