Brief Duration in Chinese

Repetition of verbs

(a) Monosyllabic verbs:

说说 shuō shuō (talk a little bit)

说一下 shuō yīxià (talk a little bit)

说了说 shuōle shuō (talk a little bit)

(b) Disyllabic verbs:

观察观察 guānchá guānchá (observe)

研究研究 yánjiū yánjiū (research)

学习学习 xuéxí xuéxí (study)

 (c) Verb object constructions:

写字 xiězì (write)

写一写字 xiězì (write)

写了写字 xiěle xiězì (write)

看书 kànshū (read)

看一看书 kàn yī kànshū (read)

看了看书 kànle kànshū (read)

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Verb + 一下 yī xià/一会儿 yī huìr

让我看一下你的照片。Ràng wǒ kàn yīxià nǐ de zhàopiàn. (Let me see your photo.)

我们休息一会儿。Wǒmen xiūxí yīhuǐ’er. (Let’s take a break.)

再坐会儿吧。Zài zuò huì er ba. (Sit down a little longer.)

Brief duration and instrumental objects 

A short amount of time can also be shown in a dative construction by adding an instrumental object, which is usually a part of the body, after the indirect object.

老师说了我一顿。Lǎoshī shuōle wǒ yī dùn. (The teacher told me a meal.)

我看了他一眼。Wǒ kànle tā yīyǎn. (I glanced at him.)

他打了我一拳。Tā dǎle wǒ yī quán. (He punched me.)

 

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