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“越来越” (yuè lái yuè) VS “越…越…” (yuè…yuè…): Two Similar Phrases But With Different Uses


We are all familiar with the basic English expression “more and more”, an expression which actually exists in many languages. Chinese is no exception. Chinese learners are taught these two expressions for “more and more:

  • 越来越……(yuè lái yuè……)
  • …………(yuè……yuè……)

These expressions are in the HSK 3 examination syllabus. Though they seem similar, they are quite different. Many learners couldn’t tell the difference between them, and often use them incorrectly even after they have reached a high level of Chinese learning. So, in this article we will talk about the features and usages of each phrase:

About “越来越……”(yuè lái yuè……)

“越来越……”(yuè lái yuè……) means that as time goes by, the degree of something changes along with the passing of time. The sentence structure is:

Subject + 越来越 + adj./ mental verb (+……)


1). 他的个子越来越高。(Tāde gèzi yuè lái yuè gāo)

He is getting taller and taller

2). 她长得越来越漂亮。(Tā zhăng de yuè lái yuè piào)

She becomes more and more beautiful.

3). 我越来越喜欢画画儿。(Wŏ yuè lái yuè xĭhuan huàhuà)

I like painting more and more.


About “越……越……”(yuè……yuè……)

“越……越……”(yuè……yuè……) means that the degree of something changes along with the development of the situation. Thus, where 越来越”(yuè lái yuè) focuses on time, …………”(yuè……yuè……) focuses on a change of situation. “越……越……”(yuè……yuè……) is a little bit more complicated than “越来越” (yuè lái yuè), and it has three common sentence structures:

(1) Subject +越+Verb+越+adjective / Verb

In this structure, we put a verb after the first”越”(yuè), and put an adjective or a mental verb after the second ”越”(yuè). It indicates that the degree of the adjective or the mental verb changes along with the development of the first verb.


1). 汉语越学越难。(Hànyǔ yuè xué yuè nán)

The more you learn Chinese, the more difficult you will find it.

2). 这个问题越想越复杂。(Zhège wèntí yuè xiăng yuè fù zá.)

The more you think about the problem, the more complicated

it will seem.

(2) Subject + + adjective1 + + adjective2

In this structure, we put two different adjectives separately after each ”越”(yuè). That mean the degree of the first adjective leads to the changes of the second adjective.


1). 朋友越多越好。(Péngyou yuè duō yuè hăo.)

It’s better to have more friends.

2). 苹果越红越甜。(Píngguŏ yuè hóng yuè tián. )

The more red the apple looks, the more sweet it tastes.


(3) Subject1 + + adjective1/Verb, Subject2 + + adjective2/mental verb (+……)

In this structure, there are two subjects. The degree of the second subject varies along with the situation of the first subject.


1). 他越解释,我们越糊涂。(Tā yuè jiĕshì, wŏmen yuè hútú)

The more he explained, the more confused we felt.

2). 咖啡越苦,我越喜欢喝。(Kāfēi yuè kǔ, wŏ yuè xĭhuan hē.)

The more bitter the coffee, the more I like to drink it.

3). 天气越冷,梅花开得越好看。(Tiānqì yuè lĕng, méihua kāi

de yuè hăokàn.)

The colder the weather is, the better the plum flowers



Common Errors Analysis

Look at the following sentences:

1). *北京的人越来越很多。(Bĕijīng de rén yuè lái yuè hĕnduō.)

The people in Beijing increase more and more.

2). *他越来越学习中文。(Ta yuè lái yuè xuéxí zhōngwén)

He learns Chinese more and more.

3). *老师越说,越我们紧张。(Lăoshī yuè shuō, yuè wŏmen jĭnzhāng)

    The more the teacher talked, the more nervous we felt.

These three sentences are all incorrect, and they represent typical errors made by learners. Let us correct them:

1). “越来越” (yuè lái yuè……) and “越……越……”(yuè……yuè……) both already mean “to a higher degree”, so the adjective in these kinds of sentences cannot be modified by another degree adverb, such as:

很(hĕn) very, 非常(fēicháng) extremely, 太(tài) too, etc.

The first sentence should be corrected as:

北京的人越来越多。(Bĕijīng de rén yuè lái yuè duō.)

The people in Beijing increase more and more.


2). In these sentence structures that we list, there is an element we mark as mental verbs. It means that in those places, we can only use some mental verbs and Can-Wish verbs, such as:

(xiăng)miss, 喜欢(xĭhuan)like, 希望(xīwàng)wish, etc.

We cannot use general verbs because they cannot indicate the variety of degree, such as:

(chī)eat, 学习(xuéxí)learn, 跑步(păobù)run, etc.

Thus the second sentence should be:

他越来越喜欢学习中文。(Ta yuè lái yuè xĭhuan xuéxí zhōngwén.)

He likes to learn Chinese more and more.


3). One sentence structure of “越……越……” is:

Subject1 + 越 +adjective1/Verb,Subject2 +越+adjective2/Verb (+……)

It`s a little special because in it there are two subjects. Note that “越” (yuè) should be placed at the back of the second subject. Therefore, the corrected sentence should be:

老师越说 ,我们越紧张。(Lăoshī yuè shuō, wŏmen yuè jĭnzhāng.)

The more the teacher talked, the more nervous we felt.


Common mental verbs and Can-Wish verbs in Chinese

Here is a list of some common mental verbs and Can-Wish verbs:

more and more in chinese

Now that you understand the differences and the similarities between the phrases “越来越” (yuè lái yuè……) and “越……越……”(yuè……yuè……), you will now be able to use the correct phrase when you need to express something that is “more and more”. Each phrase has its own characteristics, and knowing when to use them will help you speak more authentic Chinese.

Spring Zhang

Spring Zhang (张云梦) earned her Master' s Degree from Beijing Language and Culture University in 2016. A 7- year studying experience majoring in Teaching Chinese as an International Language provided her with a solid and professional foundation as a Chinese teacher. During her time as a student, she also had 4-year experience teaching overseas students in universities, which makes her understand her students' difficulties better. She now lives in Singapore and she devotes herself to Chinese Language education.

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