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排队 - literal translation


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I seem to have a problem understanding 排队. 


Since 排 means 'to set in order; to arrange; to line smth up', 排兵,排膳,排筵  - are absolutely clear to me.

But how can 请在这里排 ('Please line up here') be possible? 排 what? Is it literally 'please,arrange  [your] group here (in a file/line/queue)' ->  figuratively 'form a queue'? Can it be used  to address one person to join the queue,or in this case 站 (ex. 我们站好队准备出发 - 'we joined (stood in) the queue to...') is better?



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排 is tansitif, but 排队 isn't. In this sentence 排 is not an independent verb, the verb is 排队 and it means stand in a queue. Sometimes trying to undestans two character words by analysing each character separately makes it more complicated. 排队 has its semantic meaning and usage different from 排 alone. 

Its like 购物, shopping. If you use only 购, you must add something, what you are buying, but if you use 购物, you don't need add anything. Or like 下雨. You must say 下(什么),but not 下雨(什么)。

In chinese there are lots of this kind of verbs made of a verb and a noun. If you want to understand their structure, you can analyse them separately, but in a sentence they function as an autonomous unit.

排队 can be addressed to a group and to one person.

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Wanted to add that in daily use I find that 排队 also has a less specific meaning. Namely that you must wait your turn, even if it's not in an actual line.


"How long does it take to eat lunch there?" 那边吃午饭需要多长时间?

"Can't really say, because you must wait your turn to be served." 不能这样说,应该排队。 说不定,应该排队。

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Man, this reminds me, we should start a thread on the meaning of "说不定".


It obviously means "Can't say for sure" or something similar, but I had a Chinese class where my teacher told me it also meant "It's very likely".  As in, "你等了这么久别走,再等五分钟说不定他就来." Or something like that, I can't remember exactly.  I've got it in a textbook somewhere but I'll need to find the book first, and then find the place in the book that talks about it.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Think of it like 睡觉. Literally it means 'sleep - sleep' (verb and its object), and we can separate it to "睡了两个小时的觉", for example. In English of course 睡觉 is just 'sleep'.


Similarly, 排队 can be thought of as 'line up - group/(line)', and can also be separated: "他们排了十个小时的队才买到票,我噻". In the same English, non-figurative sense of 排队, we'd of course just be saying "They queued/lined up/waited in line for 10 hours to buy the tickets".

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