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Learn Chinese with “以前” and “以后”

Learn Chinese with “以前” and “以后”.jpg


Most learners of Chinese encounter the terms 以前 and 以后 fairly early on in their studies. They're probably the easiest way to sequence events in time in Chinese, but getting them right still takes some effort and practice. Here are tips on using these words correctly.

许多学习中文的人从一开始就接触到"以前(yǐ qián)"和"以后(yǐ hòu)"这两个词。它们可能是中文里将事件按时间排序的最简单的方式了,不过正确使用它们还是需要点功夫和练习。以下介绍如何正确使用这两个词。

 

Before and after

之前和之后

 

With an event or action

描述事件或动作

 

Let's first look at using 以前 and 以后 to talk about events happening before or after other things. The basic structure is the same for 以前 and 以后:

让我们先来看看"以前"和"以后"这两个词是如何阐述事件发生的先后顺序的。这种情况使用这两个词的基本句子结构是一样的:

 

[event] 以后,[something happens]

[事件]以后,[某事发生]

 

The structure above is used to say that something happens after that event. The same structure can be used to talk about past or future events – it simply sequences the events in time. You can swap 以后 (after) for 以前 (before) – the structure is the same.

上面的句子结构是用于描述一件事件之后发生了某事。同样的结构也可以用于描述过去和将来的事件,只需把事件按时间排序。你可以把"以后"换成"以前",结构保持不变。

 

Have a look at some example sentences for this pattern with 以前 and 以后:

下面看看一些此类使用"以前"和"以后"的例句:

 

吃饭以前,我们先祈祷。

Chīfàn yǐqián, wǒmen xiān qídǎo.

Before eating, we pray.

 

去加拿大以前,他在英国教书。

Qù Jiānádà yǐqián, tā zài Yīngguó jiāoshū.

Before he went to Canada, he taught in the UK.

 

到办公室以前,我需要打个电话。

Dào bàngōngshì yǐqián, wǒ xūyào dǎ gè diànhuà.

Before I get to the office, I need to make a phone call.

 

吃饭以后,我要看书。

Chīfàn yǐhòu, wǒ yào kànshū.

After I've eaten, I'm going to read.

 

下班以后,我要学习中文。

Xiàbān yǐhòu, wǒ yào xuéxí zhōngwén.

After finishing work, I'm going to study Chinese.

 

二战以后,世界就不一样了。

èrzhàn yǐhòu, shìjiè jiù bù yīyàng le.

After the Second World War, the world was different.

 

吃了早餐以后,我要去健身房。

Chīle zǎocān yǐhòu, wǒ yào qù jiànshēnfáng.

After eating breakfast, I'm going to go to the gym.

 

遇到了她以后,我的生活就不一样了。

Yù dàole tā yǐhòu, wǒ de shēnghuó jiù bù yīyàngle.

After I met her, my life was different.

 

You can put pretty any event or action in the first part, and use that to sequence the other event in relation to it.

你可以在前半部分谈到任何事件或动作,然后利用这一结构去排序相关的另一件事。

 

With an amount of time

带有时间段的情况

 

You can also use this pattern to talk about things happening before or after a specific amount of time. The structure is the same:

你也可以使用这个模式去谈论一段时间之前或之后发生的事情。结构还是一样:

 

[amount of time] 以后,[something happens]

[时间段]以后,[某事发生]

 

Again, you can swap 以后 (after) for 以前 (before). This pattern works the same way as the one above. Have a look at some examples:

同样,你可以把"以后"换成"以前"。这个模式同样可以用于上述的情况。看看下面的例子:

 

三天以前,我在南京。

Sān tiān yǐqián, wǒ zài Nánjīng.

Three days ago, I was in Nanjing.

 

我们晚上八点以前就会到。

Wǒmen wǎnshàng bā diǎn yǐqián jiù huì dào.

We'll arrive before 8pm.

 

很久以前,在一个很遥远的星系……

Hěnjiǔ yǐqián, zài yīgè hěn yáoyuǎn de héngxīng xì……

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…

 

十分钟以后,他就走了。

Shí fēnzhōng yǐhòu, tā jiù zǒule.

He left ten minutes later.

 

我一个星期以后会回来。

Wǒ yīgè xīngqí yǐhòu huì huílái.

I will come back in one week.

 

五年以后,我会有自己的房子。

Wǔ nián yǐhòu, wǒ huì yǒu zìjǐ de fángzi.

In five years I will have my own house.

 

Amount of time before or after an event

事件还未发生或者发生了一段时间

 

You can also combine the two patterns described above, to talk about things happen a certain amount of time before or after an event. The structure for this is:

你可以结合那两个规律去描述上面的情况,讲述事情在某事之前还未发生或者已经发生了一段时间。结构是这样的:

 

[event] [amount of time] 以后,[something happens]

[事件][一段时间]以后,[某事发生]

 

Have a look at some examples:

看看以下几个例子:

 

米饭煮好五分钟以前,要开始炒肉。

Mǐfàn zhǔ hǎo wǔ fēnzhōng yǐqián, yào kāishǐ chǎo ròu.

Five minutes before the rice is boiled, you should start frying the meat.

 

你到这里三天以前,我梦到过你。

Nǐ dào zhèlǐ sān tiān yǐqián, wǒ mèng dàoguò nǐ.

Three days before you got here, I dreamt about you.

 

哥伦布到美洲几百年以前,维京人已经到过。

Gēlúnbù dào měizhōu jǐ bǎi nián yǐqián, wéi jīng rén yǐjīng dàoguò.

Several hundred years before Columbus got there, the Vikings had already been to the Americas.

 

吃了这种药15分钟以后就会有效果。

Chīle zhè zhǒng yào 15 fēnzhōng yǐhòu jiù huì yǒu xiàoguǒ.

This medicine takes effect in fifteen minutes.

 

开始有互联网不久以后,我们的世界就变小了。

Kāishǐ yǒu hùliánwǎng bùjiǔ yǐhòu, wǒmen de shìjiè jiù biàn xiǎole.

Not long after the Internet came along, our world got smaller.

 

地震发生五天以后,救援队还没到。

Dìzhèn fāshēng wǔ tiān yǐhòu, jiùyuán duì hái méi dào.

Five days after the earthquake, rescue teams still hadn't arrived.

 

Some of the above sentences might be a little difficult at your current level, but fear not – with more practice they will become easy.

或许以上一些例句对你的水平而言有点过难,但是不用担心,多多练习就会变得容易了。

 

Past and future

过去和将来

 

Finally, you can use the words 以前 and 以后 to talk about the general past and future, without specifying any points in time. Have a look at some examples:

最后,你可以用"以前"和"以后"去描述过去和将来,无需说到具体的某个时间点。看看几个例子:

 

以前,我不喜欢吃蔬菜。

Yǐqián, wǒ bù xǐhuan chī shūcài.

Before, I didn't like to eat vegetables.

 

以前,我以为他很害羞。

Yǐqián, wǒ yǐwéi tā hěn hàixiū.

Before, I thought he was very shy.

 

以前,这个房子没有电。

Yǐqián, zhège fángzi méiyǒu diàn.

In the past, this house didn't have electricity.

 

以后,我再也没喝过酒。

Yǐhòu, wǒ zài yě méi hēguò jiǔ.

Afterwards, I never drank again.

 

以后,你不要再迟到了。

Yǐhòu, nǐ bùyào zài chídàole.

Don't be late again in future.

 

以后,人类会到火星居住。

Yǐhòu, rénlèi huì dào Huǒxīng jūzhù.

In the future, humans will go to live on Mars.

2016-06-21

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