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売れに売れる seems to be a relatively common phrase used to describe something that sold very well.

I am wondering whether one can substitute other verbs in this phrase or if it is only used with 売れる.

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Some other verbs are possible, but probably まくる is more versatile.

  • その日は飲みに飲んだ

    I drank a lot that day.

  • 東京五輪はもめにもめた

    There were a lot of disagreements in Tokyo Olympics.

The construction implies a sort of excess.

Examples where this construction is not possible:

  • I read a lot of manga

    ?漫画を読みに読んだ.

    漫画を読みまくった is more natural.

  • I watched a lot of films

    *私は映画を見に見た

     私は映画を見まくった is the only option.

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  • Thank you for bringing up まくる. Do you think there is a difference in meaning between the VにV structure and Vまくる that could explain why we can use both in certain cases or only one of them in others?
    – grove
    Jul 14 at 9:17
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    As for meaning, VにV sounds somewhat 'V happens to the limit'. So 飲みに飲んだ sounds more like 'I drank to the point I lost my memory' while 飲みまくった more like just 'drank a lot'. But the difference is small. In terms of register, my feeling is that まくる is more vulgar.
    – sundowner
    Jul 14 at 11:44

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