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HashiriKata

Sentences with 没有...以前

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HashiriKata

Hi,

I came across the following example in a Chinese dictionary:

1. 他没有结婚以前很寂寞

(He was very lonely before he got married)

However, as an English speaker, I would be more likely to say:

2. 他结婚以前很寂寞 (without 没有), or:

3. 他没有结婚的时候很寂寞 (changing 以前 into 的时候)

Could native speakers of Chinese please tell me whether versions (2 & 3) also sound natural in Chinese? and could you please give some more example sentences with 没有...以前 ?

Thanks,

HK

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xuechengfeng

Good question, not a native, but the 1st one doesn't sound natural to me. Curious to see the answer. :shock:

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geek_frappa
1. 他没有结婚以前很寂寞

(He was very lonely before he got married)

:nono

let's look at another sentence first ...

i was unhappy before studying chinese ...

我學中文以前很不高興

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geek_frappa
However, as an English speaker, I would be more likely to say:

2. 他结婚以前很寂寞 (without 没有), or:

3. 他没有结婚的时候很寂寞 (changing 以前 into 的时候)

yes, perhaps, but remember that you are learning CHINESE. :-) when in Rome, do as the Romans do...

他结婚以前很寂寞

works for me...

#3 is not correct.

:nono 的时候 = when .... (as in, "when he gets married, he'll be lonely" ... which is true in some cases)

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geek_frappa

ahh.. one more thing, now that you have a pattern, you should drill yourself. try as many combinations as possible and challenge yourself to explain as many situations as possible using this sentence pattern.

---> 他结婚以前很寂寞

when you get more advanced, we'll talk about funnier ways to say this ... hehe

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HashiriKata

Hi :D

yes, perhaps, but remember that you are learning CHINESE. :-) when in Rome, do as the Romans do...

Precisely! That is why I'm asking the question so as to know more about the pattern "没有...以前", as sentences such as the original

他没有结婚以前很寂寞

don't come naturally to us (non-native speakers) as

他结婚以前很寂寞 (without 没有).

ahh.. one more thing, now that you have a pattern, you should drill yourself. try as many combinations as possible and challenge yourself to explain as many situations as possible using this sentence pattern.

---> 他结婚以前很寂寞

I think you might have misunderstood me. My question is about sentences with "没有...以前" (which I don't know well), and not with just "...以前" (which I don't have problems with). The examples you gave are all with just "...以前". Could you (or anyone) give me examples with "没有...以前" so that I'll know more about the pattern, please?

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skylee

Sometimes you have to make allowance that even native speakers make mistakes and write unnecessary words which duplicate the meaning. I have come across some such cases when I read a chinese history book recently (the author is not a nobody). And this is similar to your previous question about why the lyric of a song appears strange (not everyone writes everything correctly all the time).

I think the pattern is acceptable (i.e. can be understood) but not necessarily a rule that must be followed. In fact, Nos 2 and 3 make more sense to me. If the pattern quoted is from a dictionary, then you may wish to try another one, my favourite perhaps :oops: ?

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skylee

This topic has reminded me that besides regular rules, there are many odd rules and usages (should be the same for other languages). Consider these examples -

中國隊戰勝美國隊 = 中國隊戰敗美國隊 = The Chinese team has beaten the US team

好容易 = 好不容易 = having overcome many difficulties (adv)

= north of Huashan mountain

= south of Yangzi river

= south of Hengshan mountain

- north of Luo river

flammable = inflammable

boned chicken = deboned chicken

Sorry that this is off-topic.

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HashiriKata

Hi skylee, and thanks for your input.

"没有...以前" is actually a sentence pattern given in "Oxford Starter Chinese Dictionary" (p.84) for students to learn. Since it gives only one example (他没有结婚以前很寂寞), I want to find more examples so that I can use/ explain the pattern with confidence. I don't have have any doubt about the authenticity or the correctness of the pattern given at all. That is why I need native speakers from this board to help with more examples of the pattern. I'm actually mature enough to know that if native speakers say something in a certain way, learners should try to say it that way.

Thanks also for the link to your favorite dictionary. Is the dictionary meant for Chinese users or is it meant for Learners of Chinese?

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skylee

The dictionary is in traditional Chinese and is intended for Chinese users or advance learners of Chinese.

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geek_frappa
I think you might have misunderstood me. My question is about sentences with "没有...以前" (which I don't know well), and not with just "...以前" (which I don't have problems with). The examples you gave are all with just "...以前". Could you (or anyone) give me examples with "没有...以前" so that I'll know more about the pattern, please?

you are right. i misunderstood you. :oops: i replied the post when i was very tired. i understand what you want now ...

2. 他结婚以前很寂寞 (without 没有), or:

3. 他没有结婚的时候很寂寞 (changing 以前 into 的时候)

skylee, do native speakers really say this? or do you mean native speakers understand this? i would like to know and also take note. now that i think about it, this is a very good question i'm glad HashiriKata asked. i think these are patterns and questions that native speakers don't think about, so maybe there is another underlying pattern? i'm very curious now.

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HashiriKata
you are right. i misunderstood you. i replied the post when i was very tired. i understand what you want now ...

I'm glad to be understood now, and I hope more help will be forthcoming :D !

Actually, you are not the exception :wink: . It may be because of the types of questions I tend to ask (and I sometimes have to spend a long time to explain myself, for example: http://www.chinese-forums.com/viewtopic.php?p=24230 ). I seem to be doing it a little better now!

Cheers,

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Quest

没有。。。以前 really means 以前没有 。。。的时候

他没有结婚以前很寂寞 =他以前还没有结婚的时候都很寂寞

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geek_frappa
没有。。。以前 really means 以前没有 。。。的时候

他没有结婚以前很寂寞 =他以前还没有结婚的时候都很寂寞

this is what i was thinking ... but i think my question is ...

is the pattern as follows??:

以前 。。。没有 。。。(的时候 )

(以前) 。。。没有 。。。的时候

, where the items in parentheses are optional?

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Quest
1 他有五個孩子,所以他沒有結婚以前的亂花錢習慣‧

2 他沒有結婚以前的自由‧

3 日本的經濟沒有1990年以前的那麼景氣‧

4 他沒有退休以前的壓力‧

In HashiriKata's example, 没有 modifies 结婚, so 没有结婚以前 is an adverbial phrase that denotes time. The main idea of the sentence is 他很寂寞。

In your examples, 没有 goes with what's after 以前:

1 没有习惯

2 没有自由

3 没有景气

4 没有压力

In your examples, 没有 and 以前 are independent of each other.

。。。以前的 is an adjectival phrase.

HashiriKata, just as skylee said, language is not math or logic. You cannot add elements up. (e.g. why double negatives give you negative in English.)

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Quest
this is what i was thinking ... but i think my question is ...

is the pattern as follows??:

以前 。。。没有 。。。(的时候 )

(以前) 。。。没有 。。。的时候

, where the items in parentheses are optional?

The reason why 他没有结婚的时候很寂寞 is kind of odd is because it sounds like 他不结婚的时候就很寂寞 and 结婚 is not something one does very often. This sentence implies -- "He gets married often, and when he does not get married, he's lonely."

Usually, 的时候 is used with 不/不在 instead of 没有 if the word before 的时候 is a verb, and additional words like 还 or 以前/之前 are needed if you want to use 没有+verb+的时候。

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HashiriKata

Thank you everyone for contributing. I'm so happy to see so many interpretations and valuable suggestions :D .

Personally, I go along with what Quest has said as well as his interpretation:

他没有结婚以前很寂寞 =他以前还没有结婚的时候都很寂寞

As for the translation given in the dictionary, I think we could twist it a bit to map into the original Chinese structure:

他没有结婚以前很寂寞

(original translation:) He was very lonely before he got married =>

He was very lonely before, when he had not got married.

From the contributions to the thread, I also feel that perhaps the pattern "没有...以前", in the sense as discussed here, is not as widely used as the dictionary seems to suggest.

Cheers,

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Altair

As a fan of obscure grammatical points and interesting word origins, I cannot help adding to this dialog.

I cannot find the reference at the moment, but one of my grammar books explains this construction by saying simply that 没有 is used pleonastically. “Pleonastic” is a term used in linguistics to refer to situations where words are used seemingly unnecessarily and even contrary to logic. Basically, “pleonastically” means “superabundantly” or “redundantly.”

Interestingly, there are analogous constructions in French and Spanish. In French, I believe one can translate “before he leaves” as either “avant qu’il parte” or as “avant qu’il ne parte.” The “ne” in the latter phrase would theoretically make the sentence negative, but in fact adds no meaning. In Spanish, I believe one can translate “until he leaves” as either “hasta que salga” or as “hasta que no salga.” Here, the “no” in the second phrase would theoretically make the second phrase negative, but in fact adds no meaning.

In actuality, “before” clauses in English are stranger than native speakers or near native speakers might realize. In a sentence like “I will do it before he arrives,” the word “arrives” refers to a possible future event, even though it has the form of a present tense verb. “He arrives” normally expresses a present fact, but is used in “before he arrives” to express a potential future event in the example I quoted above. These subtleties are why French and Spanish do not use a simple present tense in this construction, but use a special form called the subjunctive that describes actions as they are projected in the mind without direct reference to external facts.

As some of the earlier posters have said, the Chinese construction probably results from the mental confusion of describing an event that is projected in the mind and that is important precisely because it is not yet a reality. Logically, using 以前 should be enough to express this meaning, but speakers may reinforce the idea by adding on a logically unnecessary 没有.

As for usage, my understanding is that 没有 is never necessary in these constructions, but that listeners should simply be prepared to hear and understand them.

華陰 = north of Huashan mountain

江陰 = south of Yangzi river

衡陽 = south of Hengshan mountain

洛陽 = norht of Luo river [/unquote]

My understanding of the terms 陰 and 陽 is that their original meaning was something like a “shady slope” and “sunny slope,” respectively. If this is true, in the northern hemisphere and in northern China, the shady side of a mountain will be the northern slope and the shady side of a river valley will be the southern slope. The reason is that the sun is always in the southern side of the sky if one is in the northern hemisphere. Likewise, the sunny side of a mountain will be the southern side, whereas the sunny side of a river valley will be the northern side.

flammable = inflammable[/unquote]

As I understand it, “flammable” is a new coinage.” These words originally came from the verb “inflame,” which meant “to set ablaze.” “Inflammable” thus means “things that can be set ablaze.” In Latin the prefix “in-” had two completely separate origins. One Indo-european source (“en”) of this prefix meant something like “in,” “on,” “into,” or “onto.” Added to the Latin word “flamma” (“flame”), it formed the verb “inflammare” which meant “to put something in flames.” “Inflammable” thus meant “capable of being put in flames.” (By the way, those who are less familiar with English may want to know that “put in flames” does not mean “transferred into a fire,” but rather “made to burn.”)

The Latin prefix “in” also resulted from a different source in Indo-European that meant “not” or “without” (schwa + “n”). This same source has survived in English as the prefix “un-” and in Greek as “a-” or “an-.”

Since English speakers no longer use the word “inflame” in a literal way, they are likely to interpret the “in-” of “inflammable” incorrectly as meaning “un-” and therefore conclude erroneously that “inflammable” means something that is “unable to be burned” or “incapable of being set into flames.” To avoid such a potentially catastrophic interpretation, smarter heads have prevailed over conservative grammarians and created the adjective “flammable,” which has the pretty clear and unambiguous meaning of “capable of being put in flames.

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