(rèn shí ) both characters means ( to know)and when combined it still have the same meaning. So why can't I use only one of them ?enter image description here

  • bkrs:认to recognize to know to admit(认识; 分辨) recognize; know; make out; identify: 认出某人 identify (recognize) a person 她变得使我简直认不出来了。(建立关系) enter into a certain relationship with; adopt: 认师傅 apprentice oneself to sb. 认她作闺女 adopt her as a daughter (同意; 承认) admit; recognize; own: 承认 admit; recognize 否认 deny,etc. 5) 动 知道、了解。 如:「素不相识」、「有眼不识泰山」。 modern Chinese sentences are made up predominantly of 2-character words. 很高兴认识+NP is a standard phrase, whose meaning would be altered if 认识 is replaced by 认 and could not be understood if replaced by 识 – user6065 Aug 8 at 5:55
  • Something related to 對仗(對偶). – NoobTW Aug 8 at 5:56
  • examples for verb 识/know seem to indicate that it should be considered a bound morpheme, occurring in fixed combinations, 成语 among them, cf. bkrs:一字 不识 ,我与他素不 相识 , 不识时务 , 不识抬举 – user6065 Aug 8 at 6:45

It sources back to ancient times in China when spoken and written languages are in different forms (after Qin). Back then, only a small portion of Chinese people know how to write, while most Chinese people can only speak.

During the development of the Chinese language, written language became closer and closer to spoken language, transforming from WenYan(文言文) to BaiHua (白话). In spoken language, people like to use bi-syllable words because it is easier to understand since there're many homophones. So written language inherit this pattern during its development.

In modern Chinese, people are used to this kind of expression, so it seems outdated or 'show off your WenYan skills' when you only use one character to express its meaning. Also, there're fixed rules that you must follow because of habits. However, you can still found some traces of ancient Chinese usage in Cantonese. I can't give an example here because I'm not an expert of Cantonese.

The evolution of BaiHua can be found on this Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Written_vernacular_Chinese

Please read this post: 认识 vs 知道 based on glyph origins

Both 认 and 识 has other meanings beside "recognize", just using 认 or just using 识 might mean something other than "recognize".

Put them together to form a specific term can remove ambiguity.

The reason for coining compound words is to turn general characters into specific words

Sometimes they are used by themselves (it depends on the word), e.g.:

Can you help me?

They're often used in single-character forms in Chinese idioms, e.g. 六亲不认 and 不识时务.

In my (only a learner) experience, the main reason seems to be that it's hard to understand sentences with single-character words:

  • 认 and 任 are pronounced the same, and 识 is pronounced the same as 时, 实, and 十, so it's harder to deduce which character is being spoken.

  • 认 and 识 also combine with other Chinese characters, e.g. 认为 and 知识, so it's harder to distinguish where word boundaries occur.

But on top of this, the usage of the double-character word may be different. An example of this is 帮忙 which is a noun for "help", whereas is a verb for "help". Another example is:

Just now, I ate.

But 刚我吃饭 is not correct (because is an adverb). So if we arbitrarily interchange 刚 and 刚才, we will break the grammar.

Also, the English is only an approximate translation, and in Chinese these words that translate to the same thing are slightly different. They're the closest we have to the underlying meanings of 认识, 认, and 识.

For the same reason you say "come back" instead of just "back" - it's just how the language is.

Or, even more comically, you wouldn't say "pro" instead of "protrude" in English, why require such brevity from modern Chinese?

Modern Chinese likes bi-syllabic "words", if you want each character to be used for one separate "word", look into 文言文.

See Sections 5-6 of this paper for theories of how compounding and disyllabicization occurred together in Chinese. There is a long history.

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