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Laban

Correct word order with "often" and "before"/"after"

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Laban

I am starting to learn mandarin (again...) and have a question on word order.  

 

English: "I often drink coffee before work"

 

Is it more correct to say:

Shàngbān yǐqián, wǒ chángcháng hē kāfēi.

 

Or: 

Wǒ chángcháng shàngbān yǐqián hē kāfēi.

 

Thanks.

 

Ps. I am using pinyin since I am not learning characters (at least not yet).

 

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Demonic_Duck

I'd probably say “我经常上班前喝咖啡” (wǒ jīngcháng shàngbān qián hē kāfēi), which is equivalent to your second option grammatically (“经常” definitely sounds better than “常常” here, though).

 

I don't think any of these are incorrect, though:

  • Wǒ shàngbān qián jīngcháng hē kāfēi.
  • Wǒ jīngcháng shàngbān qián hē kāfēi.
  • Shàngbān qián, wǒ jīngcháng hē kāfēi.

It's more a matter of what part of the sentence you want to emphasize.

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陳德聰

Are option 1 and 3 interchangeable? :)

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Demonic_Duck
12 hours ago, 陳德聰 said:

Are option 1 and 3 interchangeable? :)

 

Not any more 😅

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Norris2000

By the way, "before work" we won't say

"Shàngbān yǐqián" . 

We will say "Shàngbān Zhīqián" or just "Shàngbān qián"

 

yǐqián is like months ago, years ago, or even decades ago. 

E.g. Wǒ yǐqián zài měiguó shēnghuó.

I used to live in USA.

 

Zhīqián is much shorter, and usually we are comparing two things. Like having coffee before work. 

 

 

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DavyJonesLocker
On 6/28/2019 at 12:55 AM, Norris2000 said:

By the way, "before work" we won't say

"Shàngbān yǐqián" . 

We will say "Shàngbān Zhīqián" or just "Shàngbān qián"

 

yǐqián is like months ago, years ago, or even decades ago. 

E.g. Wǒ yǐqián zài měiguó shēnghuó.

I used to live in USA.

 

Zhīqián is much shorter, and usually we are comparing two things. Like having coffee before work

 

Thank you for   mentioned that point. I don't recall text books specifically mentioning the difference. I just picked it up by listening to native speakers . 

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Dawei3
On 6/27/2019 at 12:55 PM, Norris2000 said:

yǐqián is like months ago, years ago, or even decades ago.

As DaveyJones noted, this is important.  I originally learned yiqian from Pimsleur and at that time, didn't even know zhiqian.  

 

E.g., I used yiqian in a wechat to let a friend know that earlier I had sent him an email.  He made the same point as Norris, i.e., yiqian implied I had done it long ago, not minutes or hours before.  Before he pointed this out, I had misused yiqian countless times 😩 and no one had mentioned it to me.    

 

 

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Laban

Interesting, I had no idea of the "long time" connotation of yǐqián - could this be something that differs depending on region?  Fluenz Mandarin (3) says nothing about this, but perhaps where that teacher comes from it is okay to use it for shorter times as well?

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Norris2000
22 hours ago, Laban said:

could this be something that differs depending on region?

It could be! I'm from Hong Kong. I reckon using Mandarin to pronounce yǐqián is easier, so they may not use Zhīqián that frequent. Just qián should be the most common in China. Maybe they are lazy?! 😂, we still say Zhīqián

 

Sometimes we will consider the rhythm of a sentence, 

shàngbān and yǐqián both have 2 syllables, will sound better. 

 

E.g. 死前 (Sǐ qián😞 before one's death

死 and 前 both have 1 syllable. 死以前(Sǐ yǐqián)/ 死之前(Sǐ zhiqián) is not common

(FYI, 死 death is a taboo in Chinese culture, so we will say 生前(Shēngqián), they have the same meaning, but 生 means life)

 

In Hong Kong (using cantonese),

On 5/26/2019 at 1:09 AM, Laban said:

Shàngbān yǐqián, wǒ chángcháng hē kāfēi.

 

Or: 

Wǒ chángcháng shàngbān yǐqiánkāfēi.

These kind of application is not making sense, they are not interchangable. But now in China it seems to be acceptable. 

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Laban

I also just checked with my wife, who is Taiwanese (Taichung) and they apparently also use yǐqián without regard to length of time. 

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陳德聰

Yeah the distinction is there in Cantonese but I would not say that it holds in Mandarin to really any extent.

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