再(zài) vs. 又(yòu) : How to Use “Again” in Chinese Correctly

The English word “again” can translated as “再” or “又” in Chinese. “再” and “又” both indicate repetition, however, they are used differently in sentences. For many Chinese learners , it is rather difficult to figure out the difference between the usage of these two words in specific sentences. This article gives you a detailed analysis of the usage of these two words as well as a lot of sample sentences to help you understand and master these two “again” in Chinese.

1. Differences between “再” and “又”

“Again” in Chinese: 再(zài) and 又(yòu)

“再” and “又” both mean again, indicating the recurrence of the same action. However, “又” is used when the recurrence has happened and there is often a “了” behind, while “再” is used when the recurrence has not happened yet.

Examples:

这本书写得太好了,我昨天看了一遍,以后有时间我看一遍。

Zhè běn shū xiě de tài hǎo le, wǒ zuótiān yòu kànle yí biàn, yǐhòu yǒu shíjiān wǒ yào zài kàn yí biàn.

This book is so well written that I read it again yesterday, and I’ll read it again when I have time.

 

我今天早上迟到了。

Wǒ jīntiān zǎoshang yòu chídào le.

I was late again this morning. (being late has already happened today)

 

你明天不要迟到了。

Nǐ míngtiān bú yào zài chídào le.  

Don’t be late again tomorrow. (Tomorrow has not come and being late has not happened)

 

那家饭店的菜很好吃,我今天中午去吃了一次。

Nà jiā fàndiàn de cài hěn hǎochī, wǒ jīntiān zhōngwǔ yòu qù chīle yí cì.

The food in that restaurant is delicious. I went there again for lunch today. (I went to the restaurant again for lunch today)

 

那家饭店的菜很好吃,我今天中午要去吃一次。

Nà jiā fàndiàn de cài hěn hǎochī, wǒ jīntiān zhōngwǔ yào zài qù chī yí cì.

The food in that restaurant is delicious. I’m going to there again for lunch today. (Im going to the restaurant again for lunch today)

 

Note 1: Sometimes “又” can also used for recurrence that has not occurred yet, but the recurrence should be periodic and predictable. In this case,  “了” can be dropped.

Examples:

今天公司的事情很多,看来我们今晚要加班了。

Jīntiān gōngsī de shìqing hěn duō, kànlai wǒmen jīnwǎn yòu yào jiā bān le.

We have a lot of work to do in the company today. It seems that we have to work overtime again tonight.

(working overtime is predictable because of a lot of work)

 

天气预报说明天要下雨。

Tiānqì yùbào shuō míngtiān yòu yào xià yǔ.

The weather forecast says it will rain again tomorrow.

(Raining again tomorrow is predicated by the weather forecast)

 

明天是发工资的日子。

Míngtiān yòu shì fā gōngzī de rìzi.

Tomorrow is payday again. (Wages are paid periodically)

 

Note 2:  In certain context, “又” can imply some kind of emotion and express the anger, annoyance, impatience or excitement of the speaker.

你今天怎么迟到了?

Nǐ jīntiān zěnme yòu chídào le?

Why are you late again today? (anger)

 

唉,明天是星期一了,真不想上班啊。

Ài, míngtiān yòu shì xīngqīyī le, zhēn bùxiǎng shàng bān a.

Alas, tomorrow is Monday again. I don’t want to work. (annoyance)

 

夏天到了,我可以穿裙子了!

Xiàtiān dào le, wǒ yòu kěyǐ chuān qúnzi le!

Summer is here and I can wear skirts again! (excitement)

 

再(zài) and 又(yòu) :  “besides” / “in addition to” in Chinese

Both “再” and “又” also mean besides or in addition to, indicating supplement and addition. Similarly, when these two words are followed by a verb, “又” is used when the action of the verb has happened and “再” is used when the action of the verb has not happened.

Try to compare the sentences below:

我还了钱,给了他一千美元利息。

Wǒ huán le qián, yòu gěile tā yì qiān Měiyuán lìxī.

I paid the money back and gave him one thousand dollars of interest. (I already gave him interest)

你把钱还了,给他一千美元利息吧。

Nǐ bǎ qián huán le, zài gěi tā yì qiān Měiyuán lìxī ba.

You pay the money back and give him one thousand dollars of interest. (You have not given him interest at this time)

 

他交了几万元的罚款,坐了十年的牢。

Tā jiāo le jǐ wàn Yuán de fákuǎn, yòu zuò le shí nián de láo.

He paid a fine of tens of thousands and spent ten years in prison. (He has already served his prison sentence )

他得交几万元得罚款,坐十年的牢。

Tā děi jiāo jǐ wàn Yuán de fákuǎn, zài zuò shí nián de láo.

He has to pay a fine of tens of thousands and spend ten years in prison. (He has not served his prison sentence yet)

 

我吃了碗牛肉面,喝了瓶啤酒。

Wǒ chī le wǎn niúròumiàn, yòu hē le píng píjiǔ.

I ate a bowl of beef noodles and drank a bottle of beer. (I already drank the beer)

我要吃碗牛肉面,喝瓶啤酒。

Wǒ yào chī wǎn niúròumiàn, zài hē píng píjiǔ.

I’ll have a bowl of beef noodles and a bottle of beer. (I have not drunk the beer)

2. Advanced uses of 又(yòu) and 再(zài)

“又… 又…” in Chinese sentence pattern

The sentence structure “又… 又…” can indicate the coexistence of two actions or states.

For example

 这个苹果红,看起来很好吃。

Zhège píngguǒ yòuyòu hóng, kàn qǐlai hěn hǎochī.

The apple is big and red. It looks delicious.

 

这个房子里黑。

Zhège fángzi li yòu lěng yòu hēi.

Inside the house is cold and dark.  

 

他像个小孩一样闹。

Tā xiàng ge xiǎohái yíyàng yòuyòu nào.

He is crying and screaming like a child.

“再” indicates more, to a higher degree.

我要是能高点就好了。

Wǒ yàoshi néng zài gāodiǎn jiù hǎo le.

If only I were a bit taller.

如果你来得早点就能见到他了。

Rúguǒ nǐ lái de zài zǎodiǎn jiù néng jiàndào tā le.

If you had come earlier, you would have seen him.

老板,能便宜点儿吗?

Lǎobǎn, néng zài piányi diǎnr ma?

Sir, can you do cheaper?

 

“Verb 1 + 再 + Verb 2” in Chinese sentence pattern

The pattern “…Verb 1 + 再 + Verb 2…” indicates that one action taking place after another one.

For example

我要把作业写完出去玩。

Wǒ yào bǎ zuòyè xiěwán zài chūqù wán.

I will finish my homework before I go out.

我习惯刷牙洗脸。

Wǒ xíguàn xiān shuāyá zài xǐ liǎn.

I am used to brushing my teeth before washing my face.

喝了这杯牛奶去睡觉吧。

Hēle zhè bēi niúnǎi zài qù shuì jiào ba.

Drink this milk before you go to bed.

3. One more thing

Comparing “再” and “又” is an important grammar point in HSK 3. If you are preparing for the HSK 3 test or want to learn Chinese in an immersive  and structured way, you can try our Chinese course for HSK level 3. Pass HSK 3 test guaranteed!



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