How to use “再” and “又” in Chinese

Both adverbs “再” and “又” translate to “again” and are used to express the repetition of an action. They, however, are not interchangeable. Are you confused about how to use them correctly? Do you know the differences between them?  

 

Basic Uses of “再”

1.“再” can express the repetition or continuation of an action that hasn’t happened yet.

Subj. + 再 + Verb

  • 你可以去一次中国。

nǐ kěyǐ zài qù yīcì zhōngguó

You can go to China again.

  • 说一遍这个答案。

wǒ zàishuō yībiàn zhège dá’àn

I will repeat this answer.

  • 我想试一次。

wǒ xiǎng zài shì yīcì

I want to try again.

2. In some cases,means “then” and introduces a second action that can only take place after the first one is completed.

The basic pattern: Subj. + Action(1) + 再 + Action(2)

  • 你吃完

nǐ chī wán zàishuō

You will finish eating and then speak.

  • 我们到那儿买吧。

wǒmen dào nà’er zài mǎi ba

We go there first and then buy something.

The pattern with “先/xiān”: Subj. +先 +  Action(1) + 再 + Action(2)

  • 说问题说解决办法。

nǐ xiān shuō wèntí zàishuō jiějué bànfǎ

You talk about the problem first and then talk about the solution.

  • 我们刷牙洗脸。

wǒmen xiān shuāyá zài xǐliǎn

We first brush teeth and then wash face.

3. “再, in some cases, can be used to describe an adjective, similar to “much more” in English.

Subj. + 再 + Adj.

  • 请你勇敢一点。

qǐng nǐ zài yǒnggǎn yīdiǎn

Please be braver.

  • 我需要大一点的尺寸。

wǒ xūyào zài dà yīdiǎn de chǐcùn

I need a bigger one.

  • 爸爸,你走得慢点。

bàba, nǐ zǒu dé zài màn diǎn

Dad, please walk slower.

4. 再” can also be used before a verb to introduce an additional action.

Subj. + 再 + Verb + Obj.

  • 你穿件皮衣,戴副墨镜,一定很帅!

nǐ chuān jiàn píyī, zài dài fù mòjìng, yīdìng hěn shuài

Put on a leather jacket, then put on a pair of sunglasses, [and you’ll] surely look very handsome!

  • 我想加点儿水。

wǒ xiǎng zài jiādiǎn er shuǐ

I want to add more water.

5.“再不” and “不再” in negative sentences

Subj. + 不再 / 再不 + Verb

⇒“再不” means the action will never be repeated again.

  • 再不想跳舞了

tā zài bu xiǎng tiàowǔle

She never wants to dance again.

  • 再不来了。

tā zàibu láile

He will never come again.

⇒“不再” means the action is stopped.

  • 那个孩子不再弹琴了。

nàgè háizi bù zài tánqínle

The child isn’t playing the piano anymore.

  • 她哭了一会就不再哭了。

tā kūle yī huǐ jiù bù zài kūle

She cried for a while and then stopped.

 

Basic Uses of “又”

1. “又”  expresses the repetition of an action that has already occurred in the past.

Subj. + 又 + Verb + 了

  • 昨天他迟到了。

zuótiān tā yòu chídàole

He was late again yesterday.

  • 他刚刚一遍。

tā gānggāng yòu zhǎole yībiàn

He looked for it again.

2. “又” means “and” in some cases where several actions, states, or situations are arranged together.

 Subj. + (又) + Verb / Adj. + 又 + Verb / Adj.

  • 这个孩子()会唱会跳。

zhège háizi (yòu) huì chàng yòu huì tiào

The child can sing and dance.

  • 那个小女孩()美丽活泼。

nàgè xiǎo nǚhái (yòu) měilì yòu huópō

The little girl is beautiful and outgoing.

3. “又can also be used emphatically.

Indicate a tone shift

  • 我有很多话想说,可不知道从何说起。

wǒ yǒu hěnduō huà xiǎng shuō, kě yòu bù zhīdào cóng hé shuō qǐ

 I want to tell you a lot, but I don’t know where to start. 

  • 他很怕冷,但不愿意多穿衣服。

tā hěn pà lěng, dàn yòu bù yuànyì duō chuān yīfú

He can’t handle the cold, but he still refuses to wrap up warm.

Strengthen negative tone

  • 你怎么来了?

nǐ zěnme yòu láile

Why are you here again?[complaining/impatient]

  • 不是不认识路!

tā yòu bùshì bù rènshí lù

It’s impossible that he doesnt know the way! [impatient/angry]

 

The differences between “再” and “又” used as “again”

According to the above introduction, “再” and “又” are used differently. Although both can express the repetition of an action, the differences between them are still obvious, which means they cant interchangeable completely. 

1.  “再”  expresses the repetition of an action in the future, while “又” expresses the repetition of an action that has already occurred in the past.

zai-vs-you

 

  • 我们明年去看他吧

wǒmen míngnián yòu qù kàn tā ba

  • 我们明年去看他吧。

wǒmen míngnián zài qù kàn tā ba

Let’s go to visit him again next year.

  • 后来国王结婚了。

hòulái guówáng zài jiéhūnle

  • 后来国王结婚了。

hòulái guówáng yòu jiéhūnle

Then the king got married again.

2.“又” sometimes can be used for the repetition of actions that have not yet taken place. It usually appears with 要 (yào), 可以 (kěyǐ), 能 (néng), or 是 (shì). In this case, “再” cant be used.

⇒ Predict that a situation with regularity will recur.

  • 明天是星期天了。

míngtiān zài shì xīngqítiānle

  • 明天是星期天了。

míngtiān yòu shì xīngqítiānle

Tomorrow is Sunday again.

⇒ When the speaker thinks that the action is repeated too many times.

  • 要出差?

nǐ zài yào chūchāi

  • 要出差?

nǐ yòu yào chūchāi

Will you have a business trip again?

3.”再这么+Verb” means that the speaker does not want the action or state to continue, but “” has no such usage. 

  • 这么走下去,我就要累死了。

yòu zhème zǒu xiàqù, wǒ jiù yào lèi sǐle

  • 这么走下去,我就要累死了。

zài zhème zǒu xiàqù, wǒ jiù yào lèi sǐle

If I go on like this, I will wear out.

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