"What are you laughing at?"


March 18, 2018

This discussion is locked.


There's no reason why this sentence should not accept "你" in lieu of "你們".


And it should be accepted without "在".


I just ckecked, it is now accepted without 在.


12/16/2021 Accepted without zai.


Can a native speaker comment on whether the 在 is necessary?


In the meantime, check out this video at 6:05, where the gamer says "笑什么?!你笑什么?!你别笑呀!":


Awesome! thanks for a real life example! I love that I slowly start to pick up bits native streamers/TV say here and there.


Yeah, it's gratifying, though I also still largely feel lost when trying to understand people in those contexts... :-)


Adding 在 just shows that the action is in progress right now. It adds specification and emphasis, but it is not necessary.


I tried answering 你笑着什么?, though it didn't like it.

Is 着 not really used with 笑? I thought putting it after the verb serves the same funtion as putting 在 before the verb.


I welcome correction by a native Chinese speaker, but I think your sentence is possible.

That said, while "着" can certainly be used with "笑", often it's used in the context of something else happening at the same time.

And while it's true that "在" and "着" serve the similar function of denoting progressive action, and their usage does overlap, they're not perfectly interchangeable in all progressive-action contexts.

(You may also be aware that they can be used together, sandwiching the verb.)


It is not necessary in everyday speech. But perhaps it is necessary to make it technically grammatically correct (I'm not sure)


I also was marked wrong for using 你 instead of 你们.

This is the third question in a row that I got wrong for an answer Duo should have accepted. Good lord, this is a frustrating course.


It gets more frustrating as the months wear on, with improvements seemingly having ground to a halt.

Edit: It's now much improved.


The question is asking "at what" so why doesn't 在 directly precede 什么? The sentence 你们在笑什么 seems to be asking "You're at laughing what?" rather than "You're at what laughing?" Why not 你们在什么笑?


When 笑 takes an object, it's a direct object so there's no need to translate "at". Here 在 means "to be currently (in the process of)", and not "at" as the latter is typically used.

Your suggestion doesn't work, though perhaps it could be interpreted as a weird way to say "What are you on top of while laughing?".


Ok but when you press "at" at the end of the question, for a hint, 'zài" pops up, suggesting the construction for 'laughing at smthg" is xiao zài shenme...


That's misleading in this case.


你们笑着什么?would that be correct? thx


I don't see why not, but I doubt it would be commonly expressed that way.


When 在 is before the verb and when it is after? Where can I read about that?


It's always directly in front of the verb when it means that the action is in progress.

When it's referring to a location, it's always part of a locative adverbial phrase, and precedes the location noun or noun phrase, e.g. "在中國". For most verbs, and all verb-object compounds (such as "睡觉") as far as I'm aware, the "在" phrase precedes the verb: "我在中国工作".

There are a limited number of verbs for which the "在" phrase can come after the verb as a sort of complement. I don't know of any such verbs that are composed of two characters or more.

These exceptions to the general rule are "坐", "放", "住", "站", "待", etc., which I call "verbs of positioning". However, this exception is subject to any modification of the verb's aspect, and thus you get "他住在中国" (simple indicative aspect) but "他在中国住过" (past aspect).


Actually, 在 is always BEFORE something. If it is in front of the verb, it means that the verb is in progress: "他们在看书。= They are reading right now."
If it is after the verb, then that is only by chance, because it is actually in front of something else: "他们住在北京。 = They live in Beijing."

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