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guillermito_01

help with tense words

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guillermito_01

I am looking for a few auxilliary words and adverb particles in English, Pinyin, and character form. Can anyone help me out? I think I have the English equivalent of past(le), past perfect(guo4), future(hui4), and future progressive(zai4). I am just looking for the ones in between.

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Hofmann

No tenses. Aspects.

了 perfective

過 experiential perfective

(正)在 continuous dynamic imperfective

著 continuous static imperfective

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guillermito_01

Ok, thanks. I don't know how to say what exactly I'm looking for. I would like an example of the words that would be used in these sentences to represent the English tense:

past perfect progressive: I had been singing

past perfect: I had sung

past: I sang

present: I sing

present perfect: I have sung

present progressive: I am singing

future: I will sing

future perfect:I will have sung

future perfect progressive: I will have been singing

Any ideas? Thanks for the help.

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Lu

If you ask me, Chinese doesn't work this way. There is no one-on-one translation for these tenses. 会 is used for future, but if you say 'I'm going to Beijing tomorrow', you don't use it, you just say 我明天去北京. 了 is supposed to indicate past, but if you're arriving at a bus stop and the bus is coming, you could comment: 公车来了, and then it doesn't indicate past, but present.

Your approach works for a lot of European languages, but won't get you far with Chinese.

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renzhe

There is no 1-1 mapping.

了 can often be expressed with present perfect, and 過 with past tense, and 会 or 要 as future tense, but it doesn't always work this way. Like Hoffman and Lu said, these don't indicate tense (when something happened), but a certain aspect of the action (the action was completed: 了, the action led to experience: 過, the action takes place concurrently with another action: 在).

Also, most languages don't have anywhere near the complexity of English when it comes to tenses and modes. Something like " I had been singing" would have to be expressed with a number of characters + context. The phrase as it stands (without context) simply doesn't have a translation in Chinese, or at least I cannot imagine one.

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guillermito_01

Ok, I understand what you are saying. Thanks for trying to help. I'll be back with more questions later. :D

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guillermito_01

Yes, that is helpful. Thank you very much.

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guillermito_01

I heard Chinese grammar is easy. It seems a little bit harder compared to English, of course I did have quite a few years of practice with English. I have another question for anyone that might want to tackle it. Here is a question I am trying to translate to Chinese:

How tall was this tree 10 years ago? I have moved the words around to how I think it would be said in Chinese (This tree was how tall 10 years ago?) but I have a few questions. Does that sound right? Should I use duoshao instead of how tall? Do I use guo or zai to represent the "was" past tense?

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renzhe

Chinese grammar is not really "easy", it's just different, and most people pick up the basics very quickly. In the beginning, you can use tricks (like using 了 for present perfect, for example) that work much of the time, and then develop the feeling on how to use everything properly as your level improves.

In Chinese grammar, the position of the words matters a lot, and there is usually a "right" way to put things together.

This is generally:

subject + time + verb + object

So:

这株树 十年前 多大?

There is no aspect particle, because there is no completion of an action (了) or learning from experience (过). The past tense is indicated by the time (十年前).

If you said "这株树 十年前 多大 了?", that would indicate that the tree reached a certain height at that time (as in it was growing rapidly and reached the current height 10 years ago). You can't use 过 here at all because the tree wasn't actually doing anything.

There's probably a better way to put it than 多大, and I believe that you can put the time at the front before the subject, but I'm not a native speaker, and I've never talked about tree height before :D also keep in mind that I give wrong answers about 72% of the time.

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guillermito_01

Ok, thanks for your help and explanation. I thought time moved up in the sentence but I didn't know how far it went. Thanks again.

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zozzen

And time + subject + verb is correct too.

十年前 這棵樹 有 多高?

In spoken Chinese, however, you can sometimes hear this form:

這棵樹有多高, 十年前

It's like saying "How tall was this tree? I mean a decade ago",

and it's no no for written chinese.

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guillermito_01

Thanks, but I don't need any no-no's in written structure. :D I want to learn it all correctly first, and then move on to corrupt it after I know what I'm doing.

I have another beginner question since I'm here. It doesn't have to do with tense/aspect, but how would I say: one of us? If I was talking about a group of friends and wanted to say: one of us will do something or did something. Would I say: yi ge de women?

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xiaocai
how would I say: one of us?

I'd say 我们中的一个, if there is no more context given.

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