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My book says that "to host a party" is written as... 开一个生日会 Example: 她想在家里开一个生日会。

The reason I am confused is because everywhere I look, 开 means to open. However, the book translates it as "to hold". I have been told that the 你好 book, which is what I am learning from, can translate some words in strange ways so I guess what I am asking is, if this sentence is correct, why is 开 used?

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开会 (“to host/attend a meeting”) is an example of a separable verb—we can add content between the two characters. The 开 relates to the “hosting” whereas the 会 relates to the “meeting”, and the in-between content modifies the 会.

For example, we might say:

他在开一个会。 (“He is hosting a meeting.”)
我们周五开一个三个小时的会。 (“On Fridays, we host a 3-hour meeting.”)

In the given example, instead of a 会(“meeting”), it’s a 生日会 (“birthday party”), but the same idea applies.

开一个生日会 (“to host a birthday party”)
爸爸开儿子的生日会。 (“The father hosted his son’s birthday party.)

Alternatively, we can think of 开 itself as an independent verb.

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Just as English say -- throw a party.

开 means to start up something, like start up a company -- 开公司.

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  • 开公司 and 开会 are completely different. 开公司 = 建立公司, establish a company, 开会 = 举行会议 hold a meeting. – Victor Dec 4 '20 at 2:30
  • 開 does not mean hold by itself. It is about the commencement. 現在開會 means start the meeting now. "Hold" is an implicit consequence of "Start" a meeting. It's just like 開車, "Start a vehicle". One starts the engine of a vehicle and the vehicle moves. And then one drives the vehicle. – OmniBus Dec 4 '20 at 9:55
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[6] [v] hold (meeting, exhibition, etc)

开 has different meanings. The translation 'to hold' is not wrong in the context of '开一个生日会' (to hold a birthday party)

开: to hold (e.g. meeting; concert)

开会议 = to hold a meeting; 开音乐会 = to hold a concert

开: to open (e.g. door; window)

开: to set up and run (e.g. company; restaurant)

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  1. For your example, means 开始 (start), rather than 打开 (open).

  2. Originally, 开会 means (召集)开始(一个)会议
    as you will also find 闭会 as the opposite, which means 关闭会议. (And 休会, 复会.)

  3. As it is used more frequently, people acknowledge the pattern of 开......会,
    other examples like 开庙会, 开晚会, etc.

  4. Then as "birthday party" is translated as 生日会, ( could be a gathering of people),
    people just keep the pattern and use 开生日会, which, in English, means "hold a party".
    And well, the formal translation of "hold a meeting" should be 召开/举行/举办 一场会议.

  5. Btw, we also say 生日派对 these days though, we keep the same verb and say "开"生日派对 or "举办"生日派对.

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