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I am having some confusion about 照相 and 照片. In my Chinese lesson they introduced them:

照片

Zhào piàn

(noun) photo

照相

Zhào xiàng

(verb) to take a picture

They also showed this example:

了几百张照片

I took several hundreds of photos.

Question:

Is the first 照 of the example the short of 照相? Though 照相照片 (take a picture picture) sounds redundant...

Or 照照片 is just another way to express 照相? This also seems strange to me as 照 is duplicated.


I tried to understand the words by the characters (from Yabla):

  • 照: to illuminate, to reflect
  • 片: slice, film
  • 相: appearance, portrait, picture

This confuses me because both 片 and 相 have similar meanings.

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    Heuristically, 照 is the transitive version, expecting (in the sense of "take [a picture]") an object, possibly delayed; 照相 is the intransitive version, already incorporating the implied object within the word itself. – Brian Tung Jul 18 at 1:37
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Is the first 照 of the example the short of 照相? Though 照相照片 (take a picture picture) sounds redundant...

No, 照 is not short of 照相, so 照相照片 is wrong.

Or 照照片 is just another way to express 照相? This also seems strange to me as 照 is duplicated

Yes, 照照片 is fine because 照片 is a noun meaning photo and 照 is a verb meaning take;shoot;photogragh.

照相 can be taken as the shorthand of 照相片. 相片 is a noun meaning 照片;photo. So, both 照照片 and 照相片 are correct.

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  • Maybe etymologily 照片 means photo because 照 means reflected / illuminated and 片 film; as analogical cameras had to develop the film. So 照照片 could be understood as to illuminate (shoot) the illuminating film. – Puco4 Jul 17 at 23:10
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I would say that 照相 is a noun, and should be interpreted as the action to take a picture: 我們去照相 (We go to take pictures.)In this context, you can use 拍照 in lieu of 照相。And it can be separated as a verb and a noun: 我了几张 or 我了几张

To summarize:

  • 照片 = (noun) photo
  • 照相、拍照 = (noun) the action to take pictures
  • 了几张、我了几张
    • 照、拍 = (verb) to take a picture
    • 相、照 = (noun) photo

Furthermore, when the context is clear enough (i.e. talking about taking pictures), you can use independently 照/拍 as a verb:

你照/拍了嗎? = 你拍照/照相了嗎?

Beware that 照/拍 alone have different meanings, that's why the context should be clear enough to use them alone.

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