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一 + verb meaning fast casual motion

I have had difficulty grasping a specific grammar point. You can obviously insert 一 into verb phrases (or just phrases) producing different effects. 看一看, 擦一擦, etc. And of course there is 一…就… which is not too difficult.

But I am wondering about other structures, related to 打了我一拳, 看了他一眼, 踢了他一腳, or without the direct/indirect object split, like 叫一聲. These listed just now all have in common the fact thay that they are a verb + “一” (with an optional object) + noun. I feel like I have figured these out, but then their basic structure can alter to something like the following examples (the following are from “To Live” and I have provided context, most from the gambling scene from the beginning of the book, in 简体字)

使勁一擲 and 喊了一聲 (context:轮到龙二时,龙二将那颗骰子放在七点上,这小子伸出手掌使劲一拍,喊了一声 “七点。”)

抓起一擲 and 這麼一拍 (context: 那颗骰子里面挖空了灌了水银,龙二这么一拍 ,水银往下沉,抓起一掷,一头重了滚几下就会停在七点上)

往盤子里一扔 and 掷出去一看 (context: 龙二偷偷换了一付骰子,换上来的那付骰子龙二做了手脚, 我一点都没察觉,擦完脸我把毛巾往盘子里一扔,拿起骰子拼命摇了三下,掷出去一看,还好,点数还挺大的)

雙手一推 (context: 双手一推,他就跌坐到墙角里去了)

往location一靠 (context: 家珍的脑袋往我肩膀上一靠; I have also seen 往後一靠, meaning “Leaned back”)

These right here are different, they are roughly verb + “一” + verb. They all refer to bodily motion, usually rapid and casual motion. I can understand them when reading, but I feel like I should be able to produce them, because they communicate some very subtle meaning.

So what verbs can get an “一” in front of them and in what situations?

Thank you


This is a great question! There are actually two structures in the examples that you mentioned. The first one is simply 一 + noun, and the word 一 here just means “one/a”. This pattern is usually placed after a verb as supplementary information. 打了我一拳 “gave me a punch”, 看了他一眼 “gave him a glance”, 踢了他一腳 “gave him a kick”, 叫一聲 “give a cry/shout”, 喊了一聲 “gave a shout/shouted once”. This can be used with or without direct objects.

The second pattern is 一 + verb, and this does not need to be placed after a verb. This is very similar to the 一…就 pattern, and you can think of it as a variation of the pattern where you can omit the 就. This pattern does not need to include the event that is caused by the action, and you can use this structure multiple times to paint a picture involving fast actions. The 一 here indicates the action is carried out very quickly and the event happening next is followed in quick succession. For example, in "这小子伸出手掌使劲一拍,喊了一声 “七点 ", you can see all the actions are done very rapidly and one event immediately happens after another. In “龙二这么一拍 ,水银往下沉”, we can see the action followed by the 一拍, which is 水银往下沉.

To put it simply, you can think of it as a 一…就 structure without the 就 since what 一represents is the same. Let me know if this helps!