Chinese (Mandarin) - The Uses of 打 (dă)

The verb 打 (dă) in Mandarin is one of the most flexible and versatile of them all. Some materials teach it the verb means "to hit, to beat". Yet, just as well, in other situations, it could be used completely differently. So what's the deal? Well, the simple (and perhaps obvious) answer is that 打 (dă) is a "super verb"! It can mean "to hit" just as well as it can mean "to make", "to do", "to get", or even "to give". This verb is really like a chameleon, changing its meaning with its partner. We wanted to take a look today and show you some of the examples of just how versatile this verb is.

A good starting point for this verb is to start out with "to make", and see if that helps make any sense with its "partner character"

打 (dă) being used like the English verb "to make"
dǎ suàn
to make plans
dǎ diànhuà
to make a phone call
dǎ yìn
to make a print (i.e. to print something)
dǎ bāo
to make wrap (i.e. to wrap up something, box up something to go)
dǎ dǎo
to make something fall
dǎ jiāodao
to make contact (with)
dǎ rǎo
to make a disturbance (ie to disturb)

Of course, it's not the only case. Another good candidate to start with is the verb "to get"

打 (dă) being used like the English verb "to get"
dǎ zhēn
to get a shot
dǎ yìmiáo
to get a vaccine
dǎ shuǐ
to get water (from a well)
dǎ chái
to get firewood

There are a few times it works out just like the verb "to do".

打 (dă) being used like the English verb "to do"
dǎ gōng
to do work (usually casual or part time), to work part time

And then of course, we start venturing into connections a bit more complex. Would you believe that this verb can also mean "to give"?
打 (dă) being used like the English verb "to give"
dǎ fēnr (dǎ fēr)
to give points
dǎ zhé
to give a discount
Chinese discounts are given differently, see note below

* Note on 打折 (dǎ zhé) - The Chinese concept of discount is different. Rather than say that something is "10% off", the Chinese habit is to say "Now 90% of original cost", usually with a specific amount. For example, let's say we see a sign for a discount that says 打9折. For the sake of simplicity, let's say that 折 (zhé) means "tenths" and that 打 (dǎ) means "pay", or, if you want to stretch it a bit, "we only charge you". The sign could be construed this way: "pay only nine tenths" (of the original price), or "we only charge 9 tenths". When you see 打折 (dǎ zhé) used with a number this way, that's what it means. Now, if you just want to ask generally about a discount, you would use 打折 (dǎ zhé) to mean "give discount" like "Can you give a discount?" or "How much is that after the discount?"

Now, just to show you how versatile this verb is, look at in other contexts. After reading this, can you understand how hard it is to pin this verb down to one meaning? This is truly a Chinese super-verb!
打 (dă) in other uses
to send (someone)... out to ... go
dǎ diào
to take someone or something out (not in a good way), to destroy
dǎ guānggùnr (dǎ guānggùr)
to live as a bachelor
to open, to turn on (a light)
to make fun of
to chat idly
Note: This literally means something like "make farts". Commentary on society much?
to shake, to tremble, to shiver

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