I found the sentence "拉上窗帘,屋子里就跟晚上一样黑。"

My translation : Closed the curtains and inside the room turned into dark as night.

Seems 拉上 can only be translated into "to pull up (something)" .

I can't imagine an operation which can be done to close curtains pulling up something.

Can anyone teach me why 拉上 is used inside the original sentence?

  • Just to add to @r13's answer, there is in English, "Everyone listen up", meaning to listen closely to what is being said. The "up" in this English phrase has nothing to do with any directional denotation. Jun 26, 2023 at 2:23

2 Answers 2


My hypothesis about 拉上(pull up) = 關上(close up) is that it was based on the way how things were operated in the past.

In the past, the doors and windows were built in such a way that required dragging(拉) the door/window leaf inward/sideway to close(關) while pushing(推) outward/sideway to open(開), note that the curtain operated in a similar manner to the window.

汉典 explains that "上", used after a verb", indicates the "start", "continuation", "trend" and "completion" of the action. Regarding your question, "上" is actually a verb modifier that means completion of the action associated with the verb "拉" or "關".


There's many ways to use "v. + 上" in Chinese that don't obviously relate to the up direction:

关上电脑 (to close [turn off] the computer)
闭上眼睛 (to close [one's] eyes)
戴上口罩 (to wear [one's] facemask)
穿上衣服 (to wear [one's] clothes)
挂上电话 (to hang up the phone)
背上背包 (to put a backpack on)
合上盖子 (to close a lid)
扣上纽扣 (to do up a button)
加上热水 (to add hot water)
带上护照 (to take your passport)

(Thanks to ChatGLM for some help coming up with these examples.)

And your example:

拉上窗帘 (to close the curtains)

I'm not sure why 上 is used like this; it's a direction complement, but the direction is abstract, and not directly related to "up". I feel it's used to indicate an objective is complete, and that the task is something relatively quick.

Curiously, in English "up" is used similarly ("button up", "lock up", "close up", "stir up", "muck up", "suck up", "tear up", "sum up", "roll up", "clean up", "clog up", ...), without any obvious connection to the up direction. And those with 下 (like 低下头, 坐下, 写下, 跪下, 记下, 铺下, 抄下, 摘下) seem to be more closely related to the down direction.

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