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NinjaTurtle

Using 最近 with present perfect

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NinjaTurtle

I’ve decided to tackle 最近 with present perfect in Chinese. What is the correct verb form with “recently”? Does it take 了 or 过 or 过了 ? Or none of them?

 

Have you taken a vacation recently?    你最近度假吗?    
Have you watched TV recently?        你最近看电视吗?    
Have you gone grocery shopping recently?     你最近去过了杂货店吗?

 

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Beelzebro

I don't feel completely qualified to answer your main question so I'll leave that to somebody else (I'm also interested to read a comprehensive explanation of this grammar) but personally I would change your sentences to

 

Have you taken a vacation recently?    你最近出去旅游吗?    
Have you watched TV recently?        你最近看电视吗?    
Have you gone grocery shopping recently?     你最近去杂货店吗?

 

The 了 in the first sentence is optional, while the 2nd and 3rd sentences should definitely not have 了s in them. This article may help your understanding: https://www.chineseboost.com/grammar/guo4-past-experiences/

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NinjaTurtle

Beelzebro,

 

That's a good article, but unfortunately, it doesn't mention "recently" examples.

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陳德聰

@NinjaTurtle That’s because “最近” is a time word and has nothing to do with aspect and you can use whatever aspect you want with it.

 

Edit: or rather I should say which one you use will depend on what you are trying to express. Would be irresponsible of me to imply that you can just do whatever you want and it will all be fine.

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NinjaTurtle
5 minutes ago, 陳德聰 said:

That’s because “最近” is a time word and has nothing to do with aspect and you can use whatever aspect you want with it.

So this is an okay translation?

 

Have you taken a vacation recently?    你最近出去旅游吗?    

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陳德聰
12 minutes ago, NinjaTurtle said:

Have you taken a vacation recently?    你最近出去旅游吗?

Not a correct translation, but the Chinese is acceptable as a sentence on its own and would mean “are you going travelling anywhere these days?”

 

What you are trying to express is tied to 了, not 最近, so you can think of your sentence with 了 and make sure it is correct, then add a 最近 and you’re set.

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NinjaTurtle

So both are correct, although with slightly different meaning:

 

你最近出去旅游吗?

你最近出去旅游吗?

 

Thanks.

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889

Can I slightly raise a red flag?

 

Simply thinking of 最近 as recently can lead you astray a bit.  That's because in English, you'd usually use recently only for past stuff. 

 

But in Chinese 最近 can also be used for stuff happening around the right now as well as in the very immediate future.

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Beelzebro

http://www.jukuu.com/search.php?q=最近+吗

http://www.jukuu.com/search.php?q=最近+了吗

http://www.jukuu.com/search.php?q=最近+过

 

You may find it helpful to compare the example sentences in the above links. I don't have time at the moment to analyse them thoroughly myself. Still hoping someone else will come along and give a good explanation. In the links above, there are some sentences with 过 and some with 了 and some with neither even though the English translations are all similar to each other.

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Beelzebro
17 hours ago, 陳德聰 said:

Not a correct translation

 

I'm curious what your translation of "take a vacation" would be then. How would you translate OP's sentence ”Have you taken a vacation recently?“?

 

 

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somethingfunny

I think 陈哥's issue is likely with the tense, rather than the translation of "vacation".

 

I hate these types of questions because, let's be honest, who ever asks anyone "Have you gone grocery shopping recently?" 

 

The actual questions people ask are:

Where did you go? 你去哪了?

Did you go to the shop? 你去超市了吗?

Did you go to the shop yesterday? 你昨天去了超市吗?(I think you're fine using 了 instead of 过 here as the 'completedness' of the action is indicated by the context of "yesterday")

Have you ever been to a Tesco? 你去过Tesco吗?

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陳德聰
15 hours ago, NinjaTurtle said:

 

So both are correct, although with slightly different meaning:

 

I apologise if I was being vague. Both are grammatically correct sentences that mean completely different things.

 

I think I said above that the word 最近 does not have some rule that ties it to a specific aspect marker like 過 了 or 過了. 最近 is a time phrase like 昨天, 今天 and 明天, and can actually mean all three of them at the same time depending on the context.

 

All three of the aspect markers you mentioned can be conceivably used with 最近. So my suggestion was to formulate your idea in terms of the aspect you wish to convey first before adding the word 最近.

 

For example:

你最近見過他沒?

你最近吃了多少次披薩呀?

這,你不是最近已經學過了嗎?

 

6 hours ago, Beelzebro said:

How would you translate OP's sentence ”Have you taken a vacation recently?“?

If I were speaking out loud to my friend who apparently gets time off to travel every other week, I would probably say the words: “最近有去外面旅遊嗎?“ Because that is how I talk, with the “dialectal” 有, and using 外面 as a ridiculously broad “out (side? of the house? the city? the country?)”

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Beelzebro
2 hours ago, 陳德聰 said:

最近有去外面旅遊嗎?

 

Hmm, ok thanks. Is the 有 optional then? I know it's common in Taiwan but I'm not whether it replaces 了/过 or is used in addition to them..?

 

4 hours ago, somethingfunny said:

Did you go to the shop? 你去超市了吗?

Did you go to the shop yesterday? 你昨天去了超市吗?(I think you're fine using 了 instead of 过 here as the 'completedness' of the action is indicated by the context of "yesterday")

 

 

Ok I think I'm beginning to get it. Looking at the English sentence "did you go to the shop", we need to translate it differently depending on the context:

 

scenario 1: You get home and find your flatmate is not in, then he comes back after a while, you ask him "去超市了吗?" (or more probably just 去哪了).

scenario 2: You're having a conversation with a friend about their visit to Beijing and he's listing the places he went to, you might ask him "去了故宫吗?" (did you go to the forbidden city?")

scenario 3: You get home and bump into your flatmate as he is just leaving. You ask him 去超市了吗? (here the 了 is optional but the sentence feels a bit more natural with it)

 

 

Please can you guys let me know if my understanding of the above is correct or if any of it is wrong.

 

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陳德聰
49 minutes ago, Beelzebro said:

Please can you guys let me know if my understanding of the above is correct or if any of it is wrong.

Looks good. You’ve figured out that it depends on what information you’re actually asking for :)

 

Sidenote:

有 + 了 = no

有 + 過 = okay

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somethingfunny

I find it helpful to strip the example of any non-relevant parts to really make sure I've got the grammar point correct.  Having this mixed up with a question just makes it slightly more confusing.

 

他去中国了 He went to China

他去过中国 He has been to China

他最近去中国了 He recently went to China

他最近去过中国 Recently, he has been to China

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Beelzebro

Ok, so going back to OP's original question, regarding how to translate:

 

Have you watched TV recently?        你最近看过/了电视吗?    (or maybe 你最近在看电视吗 have you been watching TV recently?)
Have you gone grocery shopping recently?     你最近去过/了杂货店吗?

 

Am I right in saying that the difference between the 过 and 了 variants is the difference between "have you watched TV recently" and ”did you watch TV recently" in English? The former is asking about whether someone has had that experience while the latter is more like asking whether the action has been done or not. In which case, the choice of 过 vs 了 in this type of sentence is quite dependent on what the verb phrase is that we are asking about. If we're asking whether they've watched TV we care more about the experience, so we'd use 过, but if we're asking about going to a shop we're more likely simply inquiring whether they went or not (perhaps if they answer “yes I went to the shop this morning" we would ask a follow up question "did you get milk?"), so we should use 了.

 

So therefore I'd translate the sentences as 

 

Have you watched TV recently?        你最近看电视吗? 
Have you gone grocery shopping recently?     你最近去杂货店吗?

 

Please tell me I'm understanding this right lol. Although I recently passed HSK5 and TOCFL4 I still (clearly) have a few areas of grammar where my understanding is lacking and I'm trying to finally iron them out now. I really appreciate the help from you guys. Also, OP, sorry if it seems like I'm hijacking your thread. You asked a good question and I too just want to get to the bottom of it. 

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NinjaTurtle

I, too, admit to confusion when it comes to understanding 过. I have the basic idea but I don’t have a clear, accurate understanding. And, clearly, other people here are in the same boat.

 

No, Bee, you’re not hijacking the tread, you’re making it better.

 

SF, I too would like to see the accurate translations of those sentences. But I would add:

 

- These days he goes to China often.

 

I think we need to also take a closer look at the corresponding English.

 

- I have been to Tesco. (the "have you ever" form of present perfect)

- I have been to Tesco. (the state form of present perfect, for example, "I have eaten lunch." Here, the idea is, "I have been to Tesco and now I'm on my way home.")

- I have been to Tesco recently.  (past)

- I have already been to Tesco.  (past)

- I have been going to Tesco every week. (past)

- Nowadays I go to Tesco every week. (past and future)

- I haven’t been to Tesco recently. (past)

- I haven’t been to Tesco. (past)

- I haven’t been to Tesco yet. (past)

- I have never been to Tesco. (past)

 

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889

And then we can start on, "I've been going to Tesco recently." Or perhaps, "I haven't been going to Tesco recently."

 

It's endless.

 

I think I would despair if I were an English teacher in China trying to explain the difference between "I didn't call her recently" and "I haven't called her recently." Complete despair. Especially if the students are those motivated bright-eyed types who really want and demand an answer: there must be a good one! And expect the teacher to deliver it. Without hiding beyond grammatical argot.

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somethingfunny

Haha, yes, I agree with 889.  This could get out of hand.  I’m afraid you’re going to need a grammar expert to break this down for you if you’re looking for a more technical answer.  I will however give you my translations, just off the top of my head. 

 

I have been to Tesco. (the "have you ever" form of present perfect)

我去过Tesco

- I have been to Tesco. (the state form of present perfect, for example, "I have eaten lunch." Here, the idea is, "I have been to Tesco and now I'm on my way home.")

我刚刚去Tesco了,正在回家路上

(although, depending on context, 我去过Tesco would also work here)

- I have been to Tesco recently.  (past)

我最近去过Tesco了

- I have already been to Tesco.  (past)

我已经去Tesco了

- I have been going to Tesco every week. (past)

我到现在是一周一次去Tesco

- Nowadays I go to Tesco every week. (past and future)

我目前是每周去一次Tesco

- I haven’t been to Tesco recently. (past)

最近没去过Tesco

- I haven’t been to Tesco. (past)

没去过

- I haven’t been to Tesco yet. (past)

还没去过

- I have never been to Tesco. (past)

没去过

 

Some of these are not direct/literal translations, and that’s because I feel like there is a different, more natural, way to convey the same meaning in Chinese.

 

Edit: Actually, looking at these sentences, the possible translations are numerous depending on context. I don’t think there’s a lot of value in this kind of exercise.

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NinjaTurtle

Thanks, SF, that’s actually a big help.

 

I noticed you didn’t include any 曾经  in your examples. Is 曾经 used for questions but not answers?

 

I am an English teacher for students in China. A VERY common mistake is in this answer:

 

Q: Have you ever been to Nanjing?

A: Yes, I have ever been to Nanjing.

 

Is this because of the use of 曾经?

 

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