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Using "lai" and "qu" when "verbing around"

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This structure can be used if want to say you are "verbing without a clear direction." It's sort of like "verbing this way and that." The same verb is repeated before the 来(lái) and 去 (qù). So for example, 走来走去 is a bit like "walking here and there" or "walking this way and that."

Structure

Verb + 来 + Verb + 去

Examples

In a sentence, this structure looks like this:

  • 学生们 都 很 紧张,在 考场 外面 走 来 走 去The students are all nervous, they are all pacing back and forth outside of the exam room.
  • 说 来 说 去 还 不 承认 自己 错 了。He's been yakking a lot, but he still hasn't admitted that he's wrong.
  • 想 来 想 去 都 想 不 明白,他 怎么 能 那样 对 我?I've thought and thought about it, but I can't understand, how could you treat me like that?
  • 翻 来 翻 去, 终于 找到 了 那 双 破 袜子。He searched everywhere and finally found the pair of worn-out socks.

See also

Sources and further reading

Books