In the case of one-character verb, I know that you just duplicate the verb, once for the object and once for the complement: 吃饭吃得很快。

But in the case of a two-character verb do I do the same thing? For example, if I wanted to say: I guarded those secrets carefully. Would I say: 我保守那些机密保守得很警惕

  • Literary and concise translation will be 我谨守机密。 If you insist ……得…… , a more natural way is to put it as 机密我守护得很小心。 As far as I am concerned, V 得 V structure is usually too wordy. So the use of it narrows down to a small group of cases. Even 他吃饭吃的很快 can be shortened as 他饭吃得很快. Nov 16, 2018 at 12:04
  • Wait can you explain why you're able to put 机密 in the front and 饭 before 吃? Thanks
    – kong4ndrew
    Nov 17, 2018 at 7:17
  • It's hard for me to explain why it is correct. The fact is even experts disagree on it's nature. Some think “机密我守护得很小心” is an OSV sentence, while another group of philologists maintain that 机密 is still subject and the rest chunk is verb as a whole. I found another view in a paper, wk.baidu.com/view/956c85bac77da26925c5b0b4?pcf=2 that constituent order in Chinese is quite free, due to the analytic feature of the language. Nov 17, 2018 at 10:08
  • OSV,SOV even OVS structure is widely used in colloquial language. A native can achieve various effect by changing constituent order. Nov 17, 2018 at 10:38
  • Some examples: 这锅我不背(seen more nowadays)=我不背这锅 他事做得糟,话倒说得多=他做事做得糟,说话倒说得多(wordy) 白养你了我(more furious than)我白养你了 地拖了么他还在玩!(OVSV)(In fact that catenates two clauses(OVS SV) ) Nov 17, 2018 at 10:58

3 Answers 3


'吃饭', (eat rice= having meal) is a compound word verb, and it is also an intransitive verb (verb that doesn't take object). To illustrate the difference between [single character verb + noun] and [two characters verb + noun], I would change the example to '吃水饺' (吃 + 水饺)

[(吃水饺)- (吃得)- 很快]

[(保守机密) -(保守得)- 很嚴]

As you can see, you can modify '保守' with '得' the same way as '吃'

Although "保守机密保守得很嚴" is technically correct in grammar, it is too wordy. Native speakers would do the following instead

  1. Shorten a compound word verb to a single character, in the case of '保守', the shortened form is '守'. Your sentence would become "机密得很嚴"

In many cases, the object noun can also be shortened -->"守密守得很嚴"

  1. Only repeat the first character of the compound word verb. For example: "攻击敵方陣地攻击很如火如荼" --> "攻击敵方陣地很如火如荼" (omit 击)

The best way is to use a simpler structure [(adv) + (verb) + (noun)] --> [(如火如荼地)(攻击)(敵方陣地)]

  1. For Intransitive Verbs (verb that cannot take noun), don't repeat the verb after 得 and directly go to the adverb

Example: 战斗 (to battle) is an 'intransitive verb'

Simply write "战斗得很激烈"

"战斗战斗得很激烈" . "战斗战得很激烈" or "战斗斗得很激烈" are all wrong

Another example: '伤风' (get a cold) is an 'intransitive verb'

Simply write "伤风得很严重"

"伤风伤风伤得很严重" or "伤风伤得很严重" is wrong


English is not my native language; please excuse typing errors.

'I guarded those secrets carefully' usually be translated into '我小心地保守这些秘密'. These words have different meanings and need to be translated according to different scenes.


It doesn't work quite well for two-character verbs, because that looks verbose or clumsy. For two-character verbs, we just use "adv + verb", which is pretty close to the way in English. E.g. 我们漂亮地赢得了比赛。 We don't say 我们赢得比赛赢得漂亮.

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