From 标准教程HSK4上 page 111:

The verb "上" means "to achieve or reach (a certain quantity or degree)", often followed by an object indicating quality.

I feel a lot of discomfort with using this 上. (I'm not really sure it's a verb either; it seems like it's preceded by a verb with this usage.)

Question: How does 上 work as a verb?

Here's some of my attempts at using it:

从这本书中我学15页。 (From this book, I've read up to page 15.)
我的头发自己剪了。 (I cut my own hair.)
我在北京一家宾馆住三个月。 (I stay in a hotel in Beijing for 3 months.)
我老婆拿遥控器。 (My wife took the remote control.)

I'm not really sure if I'm doing this right. It feels unnatural---the only reason I'm using 上 in this way, is to practice using 上 in this way.

  • In all 4 of your examples 上 alone is not a verb, but more like a 语气助词 (?), as 住上三个月 and 住三个月 isn't meaningfully different, with the variant with 上 sounds more oral / casual to me. Should you want to use it as a verb, as answered below, 上课 / 上学 / 上车 would be more appropriate.
    – iBug
    Commented Nov 18, 2019 at 14:07

5 Answers 5


I am a native speaker. For the example you made I feel some of them would be more authentic if you use other verbs instead of 上 for example: 这本书我读了15页。 (From this book, I've read up to page 15.) 我给自己剪头发了。 (I cut my own hair.) (I stay in a hotel in Beijing for 3 months.) This one sounds a little bit weird in the tense itself. If you want to say "I am going to stay in a hotel in Beijing for 3 months" its a good time to use 上,it would be:我要在北京一家旅馆住上三个月。 However, if you want to say "I have lived in a hotel in Beijing for 3 months", it would be: 我在北京一家旅馆住了三个月。I know it is to consider tense in Mandarin since it doesn't have a very specific rule for tense. 我老婆拿了遥控器。 (My wife took the remote control.) Here are some phrases that are commonly used with 上 as a verb: 我去上厕所 (I am going to the bathroom) 上床睡觉 (go to bed) 我上车了(I just got on the car) 我要上台了 (I am about to get on the stage) 上楼梯 (go upstairs) -> 下楼梯 (go downstairs) I hope these could be somehow helpful.

  • Oh!! Thank you! That's very helpful.
    – Becky 李蓓
    Commented Nov 9, 2019 at 2:10

The verb "上" means "to achieve or reach (a certain quantity or degree)", often followed by an object indicating quality.

It is a mistake to state "上" as a verb in this context. The correct role of "上" here is a "result complement"

[Verb + result complement] is often mistaken as a single verb, for example: 當上, 升上, 爬上


當上局長 = become director

升上經理位置 = promoted to the position of manger

爬上主角地位 = climb to the lead actor role

當(v - serve) + 上(result complement - to be) + 局長 (object - director)

升(v- rise) + 上(result complement - reach) + 經理位置 (object - position of manger)

爬(v- climb) + 上(result complement - reach) +主角地位 (object - role of lead actor )

As for being a verb, that include:

1.(v) go up; ascend; get on

2.(v) go to; leave for (a place)

3.(v) be as many as; be up to; reach * (This dictionary made an error here. For example: "上千人" means "over/ up to/ reach a thousand people" and the "上" here is a preposition, used as a function word to indicate a limit or boundary)

4.(v) appear on stage; enter the field * (This definition is redundant, because 上台 (appear on stage) and 上場 (enter the field) mean "go up to the stage" and "get on to the field". both meanings are under definition (1). )

5.(v) fit; install; apply; put on

6.(v) screw; tighten; twist; wind

7.(v) (mahjong) chow; call to create a run/sequence

My thought:

Text books and dictionaries sometimes, although rarely, do make mistakes from time to time.



Here's a few examples 上 as verb:


There are some examples from daily conversation or oral speakings:
1.我在上课,接不了电话。I'm in class so can't answer phone calls.
2.快上车!Get in the car!Quick!
3.和他们拼了!上刺刀!Fight out with them! Charge your bayonets!
4.用餐请上4楼。4F for dinner. The character "上" could have many kinds of meanings Maybe like the word "go" or "do" in English depending on specific situation.
I'll give you some suggestions for your examples. 从这本书中我学上15页。 (From this book, I've read up to page 15.) 我的头发自己剪上了。 (I cut my own hair.) 我在北京一家宾馆住上三个月。 (I stay in a hotel in Beijing for 3 months.) 我老婆拿上遥控器。 (My wife took the remote control.) To translate the first sentence to Chinese naturally,you should say,"这本书我(已经)读到第15页了。" 读到 in Chinese means read up to.To make it clearer,the contents after two characters show where you ends your reading at last. The second sentence is likely to be very strange to native Chinese speakers.“我自己剪了头发。”sounds better.Remember you don't need to connect 上 with past tense.The character does NOT indicate PAST tense.
The third sentence is a present tense according to grammar.But in Chinese, it's natural to add 了 or other words indicating the tense.Genarally we Chinese won't say “我在旅馆住三个月”as a statement but usually to NEGOTIATE , RECOMMAND or CONFIRM(usually with? after the sentence)when we say like this.But sometimes the tense showed by the character is not so particular(or even wrong with the fact), because it's just a habit to do this.We do not consider the fact carefully in daily life when we say this. The last sentence is natural when it's in literature (like novels) We would say 拿了 more frequently or 拿着 when the person is still holding the nouns mentioned in the text.


The verb "上" means "to achieve or reach (a certain quantity or degree)", often followed by an object indicating quality.

A correct use for this sense of 上 is 这本书有上百页. Usually, this use of 上 is to indicate to what extent something could reach. E.g. 这种植物有上千种。

It seems that this use of 上 works well with 有. E.g. 这里有上百种食物。And it often goes like 有上百,有上千, 有上万,...

We don't really say 有上(几)十个. There is no strong reason for that. It just starts with 百(上百个).

P.S. this definition of 上 is clearly defined in dictionaries including the official ones such as 新华字典, 现代汉语词典. This is from Baidu


  • To me, the 上 in 上百个 or 上千个 means "above" in the sense of "above 100" or "more than 100". I disagree that it means "to achieve or reach (a certain quantity or degree)". Note that 这本书有上百页 should be broken up as 这本书/有/上百页 and not 这本书/有上/白页. The sense in which 上 is used in the dictionary definition is more properly explained in Tang Ho's answer.
    – YiFan
    Commented Nov 17, 2019 at 14:41
  • @YiFan What I wrote is from dictionaries. I agree your parsing 这本书/有/上百页. To me, 上百 does mean that it reaches the point of being a mount of 百(达到了百这个数量级). It doesn't necessary to be "above 100". E.g. If something is exactly 100 types, I can still say 上百种. In Chinese, 我认为“上百”就是达到了“百”,不一定是超过了“百”,可能等于“百”. 所以 above 100是不完全正确的。
    – dan
    Commented Nov 17, 2019 at 23:07
  • @YiFan On the other hand, you can't say it's wrong because it has clearly been defined in official dictionaries, such as 新华字典, 现代汉语词典, etc.
    – dan
    Commented Nov 17, 2019 at 23:21
  • The dictionary is not wrong, 上 can be used in this sense, examples are given in Tang Ho's answer as I mentioned. I mean that your examples do not exhibit 上 being used in this sense, but in the sense of "above" or "exceeding". I think your examples are inaccurate, not the dictionary.
    – YiFan
    Commented Nov 17, 2019 at 23:22
  • 1
    Thank you, I think that makes the answer clearer. I've removed my downvote accordingly.
    – YiFan
    Commented Nov 17, 2019 at 23:38

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