Basically I do self-studying and I have a question regarding this sentence:


Question: Why is the verb 看 written before 电视? Isn't 电视看了 enough to tell that TV indeed was watched? What am I missing?

  1. The most straight forward way to form this sentence is a simple SVO structure

[他] [看了] [电视] --> [他] (上个星期在家里) [看了] (二十个小时) [电视]

[S] [V] [O] --> [S] (relative phrase) [V] (relative phrase) [O]

"他看了二十个小时电视" = "he watched 20 hours of TV."

  1. Another common Chinese sentence structure is [topic + comment] structure

他看电视 is the [topic]

看了二十个小时 is the [comment]

"他看电视看了二十个小时" = "he watches TV., has watched for 20 hours"

(repeat the verb in the comment emphasize the verb)


"他电视看了二十个小时" place the object before the verb to emphasize it.

  • Thank you! I think I got you. So there is no need to write 看 twice. I mean in your examples you used it once too. I was really dumbfolded by that sentence.
    – Ihatepiano
    Apr 30 '20 at 21:26
  • If you say it twice, it must be important
    – Tang Ho
    Apr 30 '20 at 21:28
  • What do you mean by "it must be important"? By important you mean it as the emphasis on "二十个小时"?
    – Ihatepiano
    Apr 30 '20 at 21:47
  • For example if it was in some dismissive tone it would be some thing like: "that guy watched tv for 20 hours" and I use one 看. But with emphasis: "that guy watched tv for (YOU WON'T BELIEVE) 20 HOUR STRAIT HE'S MADMAN" and I use two 看 because I accented on 20 hours?
    – Ihatepiano
    Apr 30 '20 at 21:54
  • yes 他看电视看了二十个小时 put more emphasis on the duration (20 hours) than 他看了二十个小时电视 which doesn't emphasize any particular part of the sentence
    – Tang Ho
    Apr 30 '20 at 21:54

Maybe it's a survey, "How much TV do you watch?"

I think this is a common phenomenon, leaving out bits that may be easily understood from the context. I sure all languages do it.

It probably has a name, but I don't know it! Maybe ellipsis??

Last week he was at home watching TV, he watched 20 hours (of it).

You could make 2 sentences:

Last week at home he was watching TV.

In total he watched 20 hours of TV.

Or you could get rid of 1 看 in your sentence.

Last week at home he watched 22 hours of TV.

If he was watching TV and saw something else, you will need to name it.

Last week he was at home watching TV when he suddenly noticed a stranger in his living room.

Who the f are you?

I'm a member of the team surveying the habits of people watching TV, carry on.


In the sentence, 看了 is used to add information(after 看了) to modified the action, 看.

If you don't want two 看, you can use 的 to form a variation, so that you don't have to write 看 two times. You can write 他上个星期在家里看了二十个小时的电视. In this example, one 看 is removed and 的 is used after 二十个小时.

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