“Zhe” and “Zai” are imperfective markers in Mandarin. “Zhe” is durative aspect, “Zai” is progressive aspect. “Zhe” and “Zai” have a close relationship in the diachronic development. They are both related to locative meaning and have gone through the process of grammati- calization from verb to preposition to aspect mark.
In Shanghai dialect, the corresponding aspect marks of “Zhe” and “Zai” are in “laʔ(辣~)”category of words, which can represent the continuous meaning, as well as the progressive meaning. They have the grammatical function of the verb, the preposition, the aspect auxiliary , the adverb and the modal particle. This phenomenon of using the same grammatical form to express different meanings not only exists in Shanghai dialect, but also in other dialects, which reflects the commonality in language development.
By comparing them with “Zhe” and “Zai”, we find that they have a lot in common with “laʔ(辣~)”category of words in Shanghai dialect. First of all, they appear after verbs when they serve as the aspect marker of continuous form. The aspect marks that act as progressive elements all come before the verb. Secondly, their grammaticalization process is relatively similar, and the verb collocation with them requires the semantic feature of [+persistence]. However, they also have some differences.