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

The same verb should repeat in this pattern. Single-syllable verbs are most common.

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Xuéshēng men dōu hěn jǐnzhāng, zài kǎochǎng wàimiàn zǒu lái zǒu qù.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。shuō lái shuō qù hái bù chéngrèn zìjǐ cuò le.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?xiǎng lái xiǎng qù dōu xiǎng bù míngbai, tā zěnme néng nàyàng duì wǒ?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。fān lái fān qù, zhōngyú zhǎodào le nà shuāng pò wàzi.He searched everywhere and finally found the pair of worn-out socks.
  • 这 份 工作 不仅 是 脑力 活 , 还 需要 跑 来 跑 去 的 ! Zhè fèn gōngzuò bùjǐn shì nǎolì huó, hái xūyào pǎo lái pǎo qù de!This job isn't only mentally taxing; you also have to run around a lot!
  • 我 跟 孩子 们 上课 的 风格 是 非常 活泼 的 , 常常 会 做 一些 手工 , 有时候 还 会 跳 来 跳 去Wǒ gēn háizi men shàngkè de fēnggé shì fēicháng huópo de, chángcháng huì zuò yīxiē shǒugōng, yǒushíhou hái huì tiào lái tiào qù.My classroom style with the kids is quite active. We often do arts and crafts, and sometimes also jump all around.

See also

Sources and further reading

Books

HSK5