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I was watching We Bare Bears on Netflix with Chinese subs and encountered this sentence:

请轻拿轻放

Which translated into “Please be careful (with this).”

I wonder what structure/grammar it is. Could someone please break it down? Is it some kind of reduplication? I have never seen such reduplication though. If yes, what does it imply? And can I replace 拿 with other words?

Thank you.

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    A拿AB is not a structure. 拿 and 放 form complementary verbs both described by whatever A is. Compare something like 多吃多喝. – dROOOze Jul 12 at 14:11
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    ABAC is a common pattern as indicated in the answer below. – dan Jul 12 at 16:17
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This is a form of reduplication. However, the general form of reduplication depends on the word.

轻拿轻放 means someone picks up an item, and puts it down. The emphasis is on the gentleness of the action.

You could replace the 拿 with something else, but the 放 also needs to be replaced with something that is related to your substitute word. You could say “他轻手轻脚地走进房间。” 轻手轻脚 means that the person is trying to be quiet (i.e. gentle) when he enters the room.

The reduplication as mentioned above is ABAC. It can also be ACBC, for example. 大吃特吃 means “to eat voraciously”; this time, “eating” is emphasised, while 大 and 特 are used to “show” how the food is devoured.

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    Suggest translate '拿放' as: 'pick up and put down (拿起,放下) – Tang Ho Jul 12 at 21:15
  • Thank you so much for the explanation 🥺✨ I truly appreciate it!!! – Agnes Jul 13 at 13:36
  • @TangHo thank you for the suggestion! ☺️ – Agnes Jul 13 at 13:37
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Translated literally: please softly (轻) pick up (拿) and softly (轻) put down (放).

So the actual "structure" should be adv1 + verb1 + adv2 + verb2 where verb1 and verb2 have some kind of connection and adv1 happens to coincide with adv2. For example, 多(much)吃(eat)多(much)喝(drink), or 大(greatly)起(rise (in power or social status))大(greatly)落(fall).

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  • Thank you so much for your explanation!!! It helps clear the confusion ☺️🌹 – Agnes Jul 13 at 13:37

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