Run 100m in Under 10 Seconds? No problem! Learn “一口气 (Yìkǒuqì)”

Chinese General yikouqi

The phrase “一口气 (yìkǒuqì)” is one I use a lot when I’m talking to friends and family about people I admire. Do you like to watch sports? Have you seen any athletes who can finish a competition in one go without stopping? Wanna know how to talk about their effort with your Chinese friends? If so, you may want to learn this word:
一口气 (yìkǒuqì)

一 (yī): one.

口 (kǒu): mouth.

一口 (yì kǒu): a mouthful; a bite.

气 (qì): breath, air.

“一口气 (yìkǒuqì)” literally means “one breath.”


Judy shēn xī le yìkǒuqì.
Judy  深  吸 了    一口气。
Judy took a deep breath.

Later, people also use “一口气 (yìkǒuqì)” to express “at one go/without a break.” I often use it when I’m referring to the outstanding athletes who can finish the competitions without a break, for example:
Usain Bolt holds both the 100m and 200m world records. He can run the 100m in 9.58 seconds and the 200m in 19.19 seconds.
The way we would say this in Chinese is :
Usain Bolt néng yìkǒuqì pǎo wán yìbǎi mǐ.
Usain Bolt  能    一口气   跑   完   100   米。
Usain Bolt can run the 100m in one breath.

But you don’t just have to use it for athletes. It can be for anyone who does something fast, well, even special or surprising. For example, I have a friend who is extremely efficient at eating. Truly, he loves to eat. So I usually say:
Jeremy néng yìkǒuqì chī shíwǔ gè jiǎozi.
Jeremy   能    一口气  吃   十 五  个  饺子。
Jeremy can eat 15 dumplings in one breath.

All in all, there are lots of ways to use this word when referring to people. It’s up to you who you want to describe with it! Know the common structure and check out these examples so you can practice more:

Common Structure:

Someone + 一口气 + verb (+ 了 + Obj.)
Tom yìkǒuqì hē wán le nà yí dà bēi.
Tom 一口气   喝 完  了 那 一 大  杯。
Tom emptied the glass in one go.

Zoe yìkǒuqì kàn wán le nà běn shū.
Zoe  一口气  看  完   了 那  本   书。
Zoe finished reading the book without a break.

HSK 3 quiz

1. 他  1 吹灭  2 了蜡烛  3 。


Looking at the sentence above and the corresponding numbers, which numbered location is the correct place to insert the phrase “一口气”?
A. 1
B. 2
C. 3

— Written by Jennifer Zhu —

Jennifer Zhu is a professional Chinese teacher from eChineseLearning. She has many years of Chinese language teaching experience and received her B.A. and M.A. in “Teaching Chinese as a Second Language.”

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