Disclaimer: I am not asking about reduplication nor separable verbs!

I have noticed that the Chinese often use the same verb twice as if deconstructing a sentence into smaller clauses. I have also noticed it's often optional. I am talking about such cases:



I have never seen a similar property in any other language I had come in contact with, and would like to learn more about it. How is this thing called?

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    another situation with repetition of verb: complement of duration ,带时量补语的动词谓语后边有宾语时,一般要重复动词,时间补语要放在重复的动词谓语后边。例如:他买书买了半天。我们听音乐听了一个钟头。每年冬天我们放假放三个星期, degree complement ,带程度补语的动词谓语如带宾语,一般要在宾语后重复一次动词,程度补语在重复的动词后边。例如:我们分析这些句子分析得对。他布置联欢晚会的会场布置得很好。他说讨论的内容说得不全[外国人实用汉语语法]users intrigued by mention of separable verbs, which generally speaking does not involve repetition
    – user6065
    Commented May 28, 2018 at 17:39
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    100km seems to be a complement of quantity (数量补语),and 我可以骑自行车每天骑100km is constructed similarly to complements of duration or degree when verb carries an object (自行车),in this context grammars often only consider 动量补语, e.g. (跑了一趟办公室,读了三遍课文),not involving repetition of verb, and 时量补语 (see above),more examples of verb repetition with 数量补语: 骑车骑100KM以上才会伤膝盖,走路走50KM人全身上下所有零件包括膝盖都受不了
    – user6065
    Commented May 28, 2018 at 23:34
  • Thanks, this is actually a very helpful explanation – so it's the complements that need verb repetition. Also, I mentioned separable verbs because I was afraid people will not read my question carefully. Thank you for the examples :) Commented May 29, 2018 at 8:39

2 Answers 2


I think this apparent phenomenon is more the result of the Chinese propensity for brevity and omission, omission especially of pronouns. I would not say this is unique to Chinese. Both sentences can be altered so that there is no repetition. If there are two propositions, you need 2 clauses.

I ride my bike, (I) ride 100 Km every day.
I've been writing my doctoral thesis, (I've been) writing the whole day.

P1: I ride my bike every day. 我每天都骑自行车。P2: I ride 100 Km every day. 我每天都骑100公里。

  1. 我可以骑自行车每天骑100km。
    I (can) ride my bike every day and every day I ride 100 Km.
    I (can) ride my bike every day. Every day I ride 100 Km.
    1a. 我可以每天骑100公里自行车。(Probably not referring to a 100 Km long bike!)
    I (can) ride my bike 100 Km every day.

  2. 我已经写博士论文写了一整天。
    2a. 我已经写博士论文一整天了。

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    This is a correct answer. And it is correct that it exists in many other languages not just in Chinese. Commented May 29, 2018 at 5:26
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    To explain a bit more. This is a spoken language. You would rarely see such sentences in literature (unless it is a character speech in the text) and as any spoken languages people tend to squash and simplify things for the sake of convenience. Commented May 29, 2018 at 5:28
  • This is a nice answer, and I know this might be the case in many languages (as Indo-European languages usually shorten the most), but it's interesting you show this as brevity, while from my standpoint Chinese elongates one clause into two and smashes them together. Other than that, your answer is very helpful, thanks :) Commented May 29, 2018 at 8:33
  • One question, Pedroski: I noticed you have added 都 in all the examples. Do I need to place it after frequency adverbs such as 每天? Commented May 29, 2018 at 9:27
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    Well, have a look in your own links below on how 都 is used, but yes, you need it. 'complement' is a concept from Western Grammar. I am not a fan of applying WG to Chinese, because nothing is rigidly defined. I think a complement is something you can omit without ruining the sentence. I ask,"How far do you ride each day?" Answer, “I ride 100 Km." If you omit '100 Km' you don't have an answer. Will you still say '100 Km' is a complement?
    – Pedroski
    Commented May 29, 2018 at 22:16

Thanks to @Pedroski's answer, as well as user6065's and @AlexKey's comments I have been able to pinpoint the rule that governs the phenomenon in question. It turns out that certain compelements types require the verb needs to be repeated, for instance:

  1. Complement of state: https://resources.allsetlearning.com/chinese/grammar/State_complement#Adjective_as_State_Complements
  2. Complement of degree: https://xmmandarinonline.com/chinese-grammar-complement-of-degree/

While other responses provide a great deal of information new to me, they did not address the precise question I asked. The name of this phenomenon, in addition to those mentioned in the links, is 动词重复句 – verb repetition that is related to certain types of complements (补语), usually describing time, degree, result or stative verbs, at least as far as I could determine.

  • Are you also aware why the structure is being used?
    – dan
    Commented May 29, 2018 at 10:39
  • @dan Nothing more than what I've read in the links I provided. After years of dealing with various languages I learned to accept grammatical oddities at face value. I have only noticed that Chinese doesn't seem to treat complements as a category the same way Europrean languages do, but rather splits them into smaller ones, some of which require such gymnastics to create a sentence ;) Commented May 29, 2018 at 13:05
  • There's also the time complement. Commented May 30, 2018 at 2:28
  • @Enrico Brasil could you give me an example? I have browsed through time structures and haven't found a similar property yet. Commented May 31, 2018 at 6:04
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    @MrVocabulary 我学中文学了一年了。 Commented Jun 4, 2018 at 15:27

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