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Direction complement "-qilai"

起来 (qǐlái) comes up very frequently in Chinese and can be used both literally and figuratively. This is a little like the usage of "up" in English which can be used literally, as in "stand up," or figuratively, as in "add up." When used figuratively, 起来 often serves as a direction complement.

Expressing an upward movement

Structure

起来 can be used to express an upward movement like "up," as in the English examples of "stand up" or "pick up."

Verb + 起来

Examples

  • 请 大家 站 起来Qǐng dàjiā zhàn qǐlái.Everyone, please stand up.
  • 快 把 地上 的 书 捡 起来Kuài bǎ dìshàng de shū jiǎn qǐlái.Quickly pick up the books on the floor.
  • 你 怎么 不 把 老人 扶 起来Nǐ zěnme bù bǎ lǎorén fú qǐlái? Why didn't you keep the old man upright?
  • 别 动 ! 把 手 举 起来Bié dòng! Bǎ shǒu jǔ qǐlái.Don't move! Put your hands up.

Expressing initiation of an action

Structure

起来 can also be used to show that an action or state has started and is ongoing:

Verb / Adj. + 起来 +了

Examples

  • 大家 笑 起来 了 。 Dàjiā xiào qǐlái le.Everyone started laughing.
  • 宝宝 哭 起来 了 。 Bǎobǎo kū qǐlái le.The baby started crying.
  • 两 个 大妈 吵 起来 了 。 Liǎng gè dàmā chǎo qǐlái le.Two middle-aged ladies started arguing.
  • 天气 热 起来 了 。 Tiānqì rè qǐlái le.It's starting to get hot.
  • 他 的 病 好 起来了 。 Tā de bìng hǎo qǐlái le.His illness is starting to get better.

When used like this, 起来 is only used with spontaneous actions, like 唱, 跳, 聊, or with states like 热, 冷, or 好 etc. It cannot be used with planned actions.

  • 我们 做饭 起来 吧。Wǒmen zuòfàn qǐlái ba.
  • 我们 开始 做饭 吧。Wǒmen kāishǐ zuòfàn ba.

Expressing an initial judgement

起来 can also be used to express a preliminary judgement. 起来 is used here to express that the speaker has only just initiated an action, and based on that, has made a quick judgement. It is used in the following structure:

Structure

Subj. + Verb + 起来 + Adj.

This expresses that the subject seems adjective when the action of the verb is performed. This structure is frequently used with perception verbs such as 看, 听, 尝 etc.

Examples

  • 看 起来 很 友好。kàn qǐlái hěn yǒuhǎo.He looks very friendly.
  • 这 件 事情 听 起来 有点 复杂。Zhè jiàn shìqing tīng qǐlái yǒudiǎn fùzá.This matter sounds a little bit complex.
  • 你 点 的 菜 尝 起来 不错。Nǐ diǎn de cài cháng qǐlái bùcuò.The dishes that you ordered taste good .
  • 这 件 衣服 摸 起来 很 舒服。Zhè jiàn yīfu mō qǐlái hěn shūfu.These clothes feel very comfortable.

See Also

Sources and further reading

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