What's the purpose of 上 in the following sentence?

王教授给那儿的学生英国文学课, 他课得非常好, 学生都很喜欢她的课

Although I understand 上 can mean "to attend (class)", I don't see how that fits in the above example.

In the first part of the sentence (王教授给那儿的学生上英国文学课), the only other verb is 给. There is no verb meaning "to teach". Thus, in this case can 上 mean "to teach"?

In the middle part of the sentence (他课上得非常好), what is the meaning of 上? Does it just mean "to go" as in "The class went very well"?

  • 1
    他课上得非常好 means 他课讲得非常好.
    – dan
    Commented May 20, 2021 at 10:36

3 Answers 3


So I checked Cihai and it specifically says 上課 goes both ways:

To teach a class, or to attend a class

The subject is 'Professor Wang' (王教授). The verb is 'to teach' (, note: only makes sense when seeing 上課 together), the direct object is 'a lesson' (), and the indirect object is 'those students' (那兒的學生), which in Chinese is marked by a second verb literally meaning 'to give' ().

The second still means 'to teach', with the direct object understood and omitted.


他课得非常好 = 他课得非常好.

This is a subtle and idiomatic usage:

  1. for students, 上课= to attend class=听课; for teachers, 上课= to teach a course=教课. Now, your example sentence is about the Professor Wang, so 上课=教课.

  2. Yet, from the angle of teachers, Chinese usually say 上课, instead of 教课, that is, if the verb 上 or 教 is located before the word 课 (the course), we prefer using the word "上".

  • I think it is 授课 instead of 教课
    – Tang Ho
    Commented May 20, 2021 at 18:02
  • @TangHo Thank you for the comments! 上课 (general), 授课(general), 教数学(a subject), and 上数学课(a course of a subject). Yet 上 is very flexible in terms of both oral and written Chinese, while 授课 is formal and even a bit rigid in writing, e.g., we do not say 授数学 or 授数学课. Perhaps an alternate is 讲.
    – Royun
    Commented May 21, 2021 at 13:24

王教授给那儿的学生上英国文学课, 他课上得非常好, 学生都很喜欢她的课。

We may need to clear up 王教授's gender!

课上:in class

he/his in class 得 very good
he teaches/lectures very well

There is lots of reading in class.

He strained his back in a practice session.

We dissected a frog in biology class.

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