I'm taking a look at the science fiction novelette 北京折叠 (English title: Folding Beijing), wherein we have:


I'm confused about the grammar in 吃一顿饱饭, and in particular, why = "to eat till full / satisfied" is added into 吃一顿饭 = "to eat a meal". It's not clear to me if 饱 is used as an adjective to describe the 饭, or if 饱 is the result of eating (吃ing) and uses some unfamiliar grammar structure.

Question: Why is 饱 in 吃一顿饱饭?

An English translation is not very literal ("everyone was hungry and loud") which doesn't help understand the Chinese.


The opposite of 吃一顿饱饭 can be:

  • 吃了点稀的 ate porridge only. did not have enough money/food to eat enough
  • 垫垫肚子 ate a little, only to not be called starving
  • 随便吃了点 ate some random things
  • 什么都来不及吃 did not have time to eat

On one hand, 饱 means the dinner is satisfying. On the other hand, the amount is enough to be called a 'dinner'. However, it is strange to call a 饭 as 饱饭, because all 饭 should be 饱饭 if it is a normal situation. Thus, when using the word 饱饭, the situation is not normal: it indicates the existence of the opposite situation: before having a 饱饭, the person must be in one of the opposite situations listed above.

In your situation, that means the workers were too busy to eat during work. But the dinner they have there is satisfying enough to be called a meal.


饱 as an adverb means "饱足地"(substantially/ satisfactorily); "很大程度地" (to a great degree). e.g. "饱餐一顿" (substantially having a meal); "饱受摧残" (be devastated to a great degree)

饱, as an adjective means 'full',e.g. "我很" (I am full) and it can also mean "使...饱足的" (filling/ satiating)


吃一顿饭 = eat a meal

吃一顿()饭 = 吃一顿(使人足的)饭 = eat a (filling /satiating) meal


I believe the grammar structure is:


verb + quantity + mw + adj + noun

Literally: Eat a full meal.

with 饱 an adjective - full - that modifies the noun 饭 - meal.


Not so difficult to understand:

人们都赶过来吃一顿饱饭,the people all hurried over to eat their fill.

The pedestrian zone was packed with people who had just got off work,
throngs of men and women surrounded the little food stalls, choosing local delicacies,
loudly haggling over the price.
Diners round the plastic tables,
heads bent over their (bowls of) spicy noodles,
like hungry tigers pouncing on their prey,
white steam fogging their faces.
The fragrant smell of deep-fried foods filled the air.
Mountainous piles of red dates and walnuts filled the stalls,
dried meats swung overhead.
This was the busiest time of day,
everyone finished their work,
then they, having been busy for hours, hurried over to eat their fill
(in the) commotion.

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