Which is the correct use of this grammar pattern?



The first one feels correct to me. The pattern is:

一{MW,N}一{MW,N} + 地 + V
  • Both are fine. 我一个字一个字地学习汉语 is stronger than the other one in the sense that 一个字一个字地 emphasizes you learn each Chinese word by "个".
    – Nobody
    Dec 9 '13 at 10:47
  • That's very helpful, thank you. However, I cannot mark the question as answered unless you answer it. :)
    – JamesD
    Dec 9 '13 at 11:51
  • Both are acceptable.
    – Casper
    Feb 2 '14 at 12:05

Both are correct, but the second one sounds more natural to a native speaker.

is omitted only in some idiomatic phrases like 一字一句 or 一字排开(though here doesn't mean the number, but the shape of the number).

In Chinese, it's more idiomatic to use a measure word between the number and the noun in most cases.

  • To be clear, you are a never speaker, correct?
    – JamesD
    Dec 9 '13 at 14:47
  • You mean NATIVE speaker? Yes, I am a Chinese, so my English may be not so 'native'.
    – leetom
    Dec 9 '13 at 16:08
  • Yes, native speaker.* :) And from your comment at least, your English seems quite good. That's why I wasn't sure!
    – JamesD
    Dec 10 '13 at 1:11

As other people have pointed out, both versions are correct. However, I prefer the second one (一个字一个字) for two reasons:

  1. 一个字一个字 has a stronger emphasis on learning by INDIVIDUAL characters, and thus implies a higher degree of difficulty and diligence.

  2. number + noun (without MW inbetween) is a somewhat archaic structure. As such, it is more frequently seen in set phrases. Therefore, when a native speaker of Chinese sees the first 一字, he tends to think of idioms that contains this expression, for instance 一字一句, 一字一顿... This may cause a mild diversion.


Both are OK.

As a native speaker, I prefer the second one.

From your question, I gather that we have something in common when it comes to learning a foreign language. But now, I have begun to understand that grammar is not so important. Like you, I paid a lot of attention to English grammar while learning....

As for this question, nobody will care about this detail.

  • Thanks for the response. Someone else was asking about this issue and I wasn't sure, so I put the question here. :) I agree—grammar isn't the most important; it's better to focus on speaking and immersion (being in the country or listening/reading a lot of media). Best of luck!
    – JamesD
    Dec 23 '13 at 21:38

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