How to Use 着(zhe) in Chinese Grammar [Quick Guide]

Like 了(le), 着(zhe) is also one of the aspect particles that perplex many Chinese learners. It is generally used after a verb to indicate a continuous state in Chinese. However, this is not the only use of  着(zhe). In this post, we will give you a detailed introduction to 7 different uses of  着(zhe), which will help you master 着(zhe) in Chinese grammar.

Basic Usages of 着(zhe)

1. To indicate the continuation of an action or state

着(zhe) can be used after the predicate in a sentence, indicating that the action is in progress or that the state is continuing.

Examples:

她们正谈着话呢,别去打扰她们。

Tāmen zhèng tánzhe huà ne, bié qù dǎrǎo tāmen.

Don’t interrupt them. They are talking.

 

我一直在这坐着,没动过。

Wǒ yìzhí zài zhè zuòzhe, méi dòngguo.

I’ve been sitting here. I haven’t moved.

 

那个穿着红色连衣裙的女生就是小美。

Nàge chuānzhe hóngsè liányīqún de nǚshēng jiùshì Xiǎo Měi.

The girl in red dress is Xiao Mei.

2. To Express an Imperative Mood

着(zhe) can be used after a verb or an adjective of degree to express an imperative mood.

Here are some examples:

你听着,那只是个谎言。

Nǐ tīngzhe, nà zhǐshì ge huǎngyán.

Listen, it’s just a lie.

 

你快着点儿,大家都在等你呢!

Nǐ kuàizhe diǎnr, dàjiā dōu zài děng nǐ ne!

Hurry up! Everyone is waiting for you!

 

你轻着点儿放这个花瓶,它很贵重的。

Nǐ qīngzhe diǎnr fàng zhège huāpíng , tā hěn guìzhòng de.

Please lay this vase gently. It’s very expensive.

3. Used to Form a Preposition with a Verb

着(zhe) can be added after certain verbs to make them prepositions, for example, 沿着(yánzhe), 挨着(āizhe), 朝着(cháozhe), etc.

Examples:

沿着这条路一直走下去就可以找到他家了。

Yánzhe zhè tiáo lù yìzhí zǒu xiàqu jiù kěyǐ zhǎodào tā jiā le.

Go straight down this road and you’ll find his home.

 

我们的房子挨着教堂。

Wǒmen de fángzi āizhe jiàotáng.

Our house is next to the church.

 

我一直在朝着这个目标努力。

Wǒ yìzhí zài cháozhe zhège mùbiāo nǔlì.

I’ve been working towards this goal.

4. Adj + 着呢(zhe ne)

着呢(zhe ne) comes after some adjectives to indicate a strong degree and is often used in spoken Chinese.

For example

别担心,我好着呢。

Bié dān xīn, wǒ hǎo zhe ne.

Don’t worry. I’m fine.

 

今天这里热闹着呢。

Jīntiān zhèli rènao zhe ne.

It’s lively here today.

 

现在是7点,离晚会结束还早着呢。

Xiànzài shì 7 diǎn, lí wǎnhuì jiéshù hái zǎozhe ne.

It is 7 o’clock, and the party is far from over.

Advanced Usages of  着(zhe)

5. Verb 1 + 着 + Verb 2

In lesson 9 of our HSK level 3 course, we’ve explained the structure “Verb1+着+(Object1)+Verb2+(Object2)”. It is used to indicate two actions taking place at the same time, with the first action being the accompanying state or the manner of the second action. Keep in mind that Verb 2 is the main action and Verb 1 is the accompanying action.

Examples:

那个小孩在哭着找妈妈。

Nàge xiǎohái zài kūzhe zhǎo māma.

The child was crying for mom.

 

我妈妈在那边坐着聊天呢。

Wǒ māma zài nàbian zuòzhe liáotiān ne.

My mom is sitting over there talking.

 

他正拿着手机打电话。

Tā ná zhèngzhe shǒujī dǎdiànhuà.

He is talking on the phone.

6. Verb + 着 + Verb + 着 + 就 +……+ 了

The structure “Verb + 着 + Verb + 着 + 就 + …… + 了” indicates the sudden occurrence of a new action or state during an action or state.

Examples

不知道怎么回事,这两人说着说着就吵起来了。

Bù zhīdào zěnme huíshì, zhè liǎng rén shuōzhe shuōzhe jiù chǎo qǐlai le.

Somehow the two men started to quarrel with each other while they were talking.

 

我刚才走着走着就撞到门上了。

Wǒ gāngcái zǒuzhe zǒuzhe jiù zhuàngdào mén shang le.

I just ran into a door while I was walking.

 

这电影太无聊了,我看着看着就睡着了。

Zhè diànyǐng tài wúliáo le, wǒ kànzhe kànzhe jiù shuìzháo le.

The movie was so boring that I fell asleep while watching it.

7. Verb + 着 + 玩

“Verb + 着 + 玩” means the action of a verb is just for fun and doesn’t have to be taken seriously.

For examples:

淡定,我只是说着玩的。

Dàndìng, wǒ zhǐshì shuōzhe wán de.

Calm down. I was only joking.

 

别生气,他跟你闹着玩呢。

Bié shēngqì, tā gēn nǐ nàozhe wán ne.

Don’t be angry. He is just joking with you.

 

这些画我是画着玩的。

Zhèxiē huà wǒ shì huàzhe wán de.

I drew these pictures just for fun.



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