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I came across this sentence "我喜欢说话" today and I'm sort of confused as to how this works. I dug around a bit and on all set learning they say that 2 verb phrases can come right after one another, but then, why can't a I put a 着 in between the 喜欢 and 说话? To furthermore add to my confusion, one of the example sentences on the all set learning site said "她 喜欢 站 着 吃饭 ", which I kinda understand as "She likes to eat while standing up", but then why can't I again, but a 着 inbetween? Another example is the sentence "我忘说了", but don't I need to have a verb phrase as opposed to just 2 verbs put together? Any help would be much appreciated

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  • What are you confused by? It's perfectly normal to have many verbs in English sentences too, the order is even the same, we just usually have "to" in-between in English: "I like to talk", "she forgot to say", "he hopes to win". – Olle Linge Jan 6 at 16:40
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1. V1+V2

Chinese permits placing verbs immediately next to one another. In fact this is observed when there are more than two verbs, especially if some of them are auxiliary in nature (e.g. 去, 來).

(1.1) 去 幫忙 做 家務 吧。 Go help do chores.

(1.2) 我 答應 來 幫忙 做 家務。 I promised to come help do chores.

are all grammatical.

2. V+着 as a verb

Only some verbs can have 着 added after them, as 着 suggests a continuous action. So in

(2.1a) *我喜歡着說話。 *I am liking to speak.

(2.2a) *我喜歡說着話。 *I like to be speaking.

(2.3) 我喜歡說話。 I like to speak.

sentences (2.1a) and (2.2a) sound weird, even in English. In a way the continuous tense is unnecessary when indicating general likings and interests. However, that is not to say 喜歡着 and 說着話 are ungrammatical. Using them really depends on the context:

(2.1b) 我一直喜歡着你。 I have always liked you.

(2.2b) 他邊說着話,邊跳着舞。 He is speaking as he is dancing.

We can appreciate the speaker in sentence (2.1b) has liked the listener for quite some time already, from the past all the way to the present. And in sentence (2.2b), both actions are occurring continuously and simultaneously.

3. V+着 as an adverb

In the example

(3.1) 她喜歡站着吃飯。 She likes to eat while standing

站着 can be seen, in a way, as adverbial on the verb 吃, specifying the way she eats. The continuous tense is used because all the while she ate, she was standing. Other examples include

(3.2) 先放着不管那件事。 As of now, leave that matter alone and let it be.

It is hard to translate sentence (3.2) literally into English, but similarly, the verb 放 'to place', together with 着, functions as if it is adverbial on the verb 不管 'to not care', meaning 'to not care about it while placing it there'.

4. On 忘

(4.1) 我忘說了。

(4.2) 我忘記說了。

(4.3) 我忘了說。

There is some awkwardness in sentence (4.1), but it is not ungrammatical (meaning the rule V1+V2 still stands). A better way to phrase it would be using the compound verb 忘記, as shown in sentence (4.2). The awkwardness exists perhaps because 忘 is, in a sense, akin to classical Chinese. Sentence (4.3) is less awkward than (4.1) because 忘 is not used alone, but together with the suffix 了. Other similar compounding include: 忘掉 and 忘卻.

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着 modifies the verb before it to indicate a lasting state. In other words, the action of the second verb happens during the first one.

她喜欢*站*吃饭。
She likes to eat while standing.

In “我喜欢说话”, “喜欢” means you habitually prefer to do the action. In most languages, it would be strange if you say “I speak while I love it”. So we DON’T usually use 着 for verbs describing constant or habitual actions.

我不喜欢唱歌。
I don’t like singing.

我答应帮助她。
I promise to help her.

However, in one case you should use 着 for EVERY verb, that is, when the 着 phrase acts as a clause, and the latter half of the sentence indicates turning, progress, etc.

Sam 喜欢 Lisa,Lisa 却不知道。
Sam loves Lisa but Lisa doesn’t know it.

他答应帮我,一边匆匆离去了。
He promised to help me and left in a hurry.

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  • Your two last examples are a bit odd. The first one works well without 着 too, and the second one seems wrong, although it would work in a very specific context (maybe add 一边) to the first clause as well). It's not true that you have to use 着 in this type of sentence. – Olle Linge Jan 6 at 16:42
  • The 著 in the last two examples should be removed. – joehua Jan 8 at 2:17

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