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freefall

以 vs. 之

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freefall

What is the difference between 以后,以前,以下,以上,etc and

之后,之前,之下,之上,etc?

Thanks!

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nephridium

I mostly use 以~ and 之~ synonymously and never had a problem with it. I don't think there is a difference in these cases, if there is it's very subtle. There are times when I prefer one over the other, can't pinpoint why, but it could be due to my hearing that specific sort of usage before.

In general 'language paradoxes' like these will clear up the more you are confronted by native speakers (or texts) and how they use certain terms. Over time some expressions will 'feel right' some won't.

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md1101

以后 and 以前 are 'after' and 'before' respectively. (to do with time)

以下 is 'below' or 'following' often used in written text like 'chinas economy has the following problems - ’中国经济包括以下几个问题‘

以上 is used in similiar context but means 'previous' or 'above' like 'the above mentioned points.. ' etc

im not too sure with 以 and 之. i suspect in cases like 之后 and 之前 it means directly after or directly before. though i know its not limited to having the 'directly' meaning.

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Koneko

以后 = 之后

以前 = 之前

以后 and 以前 can be used at the beginning, middle or end of a sentence.

Whereas, 之后 and 之前 are normally placed in the middle or end of a sentence.

I rarely see 之后 and 之前 used at the beginning.

以下 = as below

以上 = as above

之下 and 之上 = something's below and above?

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againstwind

以上:

1. as a pronoun, summing up contexts above

e.g. 以上就是我演讲的全部内容。

2. number + 以上, meaning more than

e.g. 也许七十岁以上的人还记得这件事。

3. n. + 以上 (the noun can't be a single syllable) , meaning above

e.g. 山峰以上是万里晴空。

之上:

tha same to the 2nd and 3rd usage of 以上.

the same for 以下 and 之下.

p.s.

“七十岁以上” is a fuzzy saying. It should depend upon contexts whether it also contains people are just 70.

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Gulao

以后=之后

以前=之前

以上=之上

以下=之下

Outside of those four, the meanings begin to differ. I couldn't possible give a succinct definition of 以, but 之, I can say, means 的 on its own when preceeded by a noun, and 其 when used as a noun itself. The first case is used mostly in 书面语 and very formal writing, but rarely in colloqial speech, whereas the latter use is very rare, as far as I can tell, and mostly reserved to the very old of Chinese texts, like the Analects of Confucius.

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The Han Studio

Hi,

Yours is a very good question, which I believe even most native speakers do not know that, in fact, 「之」is either a conjunction or, even better, a so-called "empty word"(xu ci) in ancient Chinese and does not carry any meaning by itself most of time.

As for 「以」here, it serves as a base by which the direction in time or space is indicated.

Best,

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Quest

I will try to explain the subtlety using the analogy of vector(以)and area (之)。

Imagine that the vertical line in the following figure represent the "now" point, "now" 以前 would be area A, "now" 之后 would be area B, the difference between 以 and 之 is distinguished by the arrows and the shade.

683_thumb.attach

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anonymoose
Imagine that the vertical line in the following figure represent the "now" point, "now" 以前 would be area A, "now" 之后 would be area B, the difference between 以 and 之 is distinguished by the arrows and the shade.

:conf:shock::wall:help:conf:shock::wall:help:conf:shock::wall:help:conf:shock::wall:help:conf:shock::wall:help:conf:shock::wall:help:conf:shock::wall:help:conf:shock::wall:help:conf:shock::wall:help

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Jose

Ha, ha. I think Quest's explanation is superb, actually, showing in such graphic detail how a Chinese mind views the difference between 以 and 之 in these expressions.

If you prefer an analysis in (broken) English, I suppose you could think of "X 以前" as "at a moment to the past from X" whereas "X 之前" would be "at a moment inside the past of X", i.e. the first being more dynamic, and the second more static, if I understand Quest's graph correctly.

Of course, we are talking about very subtle psychological nuances here. To most intents and purposes, X 以前 = X 之前 = "before X".

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againstwind
if you prefer an analysis in (broken) English, I suppose you could think of "X 以前" as "at a moment to the past from X" whereas "X 之前" would be "at a moment inside the past of X",………………………………Of course, we are talking about very subtle psychological nuances here.

i don't think there exists such nuances, even subtle psychological. :)

so,X以前 = X之前 = "before X" ?

yes, even when 以前 and 之前 are pronoun.

BUT, 以后 ≠ 之后, 以后 ≈ 之后

a)以后 and 之后 as pronouns

e.g.

那么,以后呢? For this one, 之后 can replace 以后. → 那么,之后呢?√

but sometims, it can't:

你应该多为以后着想。√

你应该多为之后着想。x

B) x + 以后,after x ; x+ 之后, after (time) x or behind (space) x

e.g.

从那以后,我决定不再抽烟了。√

从那之后,我决定不再抽烟了。 √

客厅以后是卧室。 x

客厅之后是卧室。 √

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Quest

I will provide more textual explanation. 以 is more like 从...往...; 之 is more like 的. 此线以下 should be translated as "from this line downward", and 此线之下 translated as 此线的下面 or the space below this line.

a)以后 and 之后 as pronouns

e.g.

那么,以后呢? For this one, 之后 can replace 以后. → 那么,之后呢?√

but sometims, it can't:

你应该多为以后着想。√

你应该多为之后着想。x

I think 你应该多为之后着想 is ok if the context is given/prefaced 这件事之后 or 此刻之后。Unlike 以后, 之后 doesn't always take time as its default [dunnotheword]. That's why in:

B) x + 以后,after x ; x+ 之后, after (time) x or behind (space) x

e.g.

从那以后,我决定不再抽烟了。√

从那之后,我决定不再抽烟了。 √

从那以后 and 从那之后 are ok, because of given context 那。

客厅以后是卧室。 x

客厅之后是卧室。 √

This really exemplifies the nuances that you didn't think existed. 以后 because of its directional and infinite nature, is most oftenly used to describe time and unbounded space.

For non-directional and bounded(could be bounded by infinity) space, one needs to use 之后 or 什么后面。

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