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How to use Chinese position words

As we all know, language is a bridge to help us to communicate and understand other cultures. One of the most interesting things when studying a language is to learn about different mindsets which help us to change the ways in which we see the world.

我们都知道,语言只是一个桥梁,帮助我们了解其他文化。其中最有趣的恐怕就是不同的思维方式,会让我们换一种方式来看同一个世界。


Positions in Chinese 

汉语中的方位


方位_1.png


Up and Down

“上”和“下”


上下-2.png

时间 – Time

 

时间-1.png


In Chinese time runs down like a waterfall, rushing down and submerging us in the world.

时间(time)是从上向下流淌的,就像瀑布一样,呼啸而下,淹没了世间的我们。

The period from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. is like a boulder at the halfway point, which is called 午.

从上午11:00到下午1:00之间的时间段就像半腰上一块巨石,我们称之为“午”。

A river runs from above to below, so we call the former upstream, and the latter downstream. This is the same as in English.

河流从高的地方流到低的地方,所以有了“上游”和“下游”。这跟英语一样。

上车 / 下车 – Getting In and Out of Vehicles

 

Although in English you say you “get in” or “get out” of a car, in Chinese, the words are 上 shàng (on) and 下 xià (off) respectively.

上 – get on/in

下 – get off/out

车 – car

公交车 – bus

地铁 – subway

 

Example:

请在第一站 (上车) , 在第七站 (下车)。Please get on at the first stop, and get off at the seventh stop.

 

Getting on/off a Boat, Ship, or Vessel

船 – boat, ship, or vessel

上船 – to go on board, embark

下船 – disembark

 

Example:

上船的时间到了。

It's time to go on board.

 

Going to Class, Work, and Other Daily Routines

课 – a class or lesson

上课 – to begin or to have class

下课 – to finish or get out of class

上学 – to go to school

放学 – to get out of school; school is out

上班 – to go on duty or get to work

下班 – to get off duty or get off work

 

Examples:

我们下午6:00下班。

We get off work at 6:00 p.m.

我儿子每周三晚上8:00到9:00上钢琴课。

My son has piano class from 8:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. every Wednesday.

我下课后去图书馆。

I will go to the library after class.

早上7:00, 儿子上学,我太太上班。

At 7:00 a.m., my son goes to school and my wife goes to work.

 

Surfing the Internet

上网 – to go online

 

Example:

你可以在机场用wifi上网。

You can use wifi to surf the internet at the airport.

Dinner Time

上菜 – to serve the food (dish up)

撤下(不常用) – to clear the table (not often used)

 

Example:

客人都到了, 该上菜了。

All the guests have arrived, so it's time to serve dinner.

Now Mandarin Chinese is not as difficult as you assumed, is it? Once you have mastered the Mandarin Chinese mindset, learning will become more simple and fun!

汉语并非你以为那样难,对吧? 只要掌握了汉语的思维方式, 学习会变得简单而有趣!

Front and Back

“前”和“后”

If we consider time as a river, the Chinese stand facing the direction of the river's flow; in other words, they stand facing the direction of history with the intention of respecting traditions. In the eyes of the Chinese, it seems that the days stand in line, with the earliest days at the front and later days toward the back of the line, passing one by one.

如果时间是一条河,中国人是面对着河流的出现的方向的。换句话说,中国人是面对着历史, 并且尊重传统的。在中国人的眼里,日子好像排着队,先来在前,后来在后,一天一天地流逝。

前天 – the day before yesterday

后天 – the day after tomorrow

前年 – the year before last year

后年 – the year after next year

前人 – predecessors

后人 – descendants, offspring

 

Examples:

昨天的昨天是前天, 明天的明天是后天。

Yesterday's yesterday is the day before yesterday, and tomorrow's tomorrow is the day after tomorrow.

我和男朋友前年去加拿大旅游,准备后年去非洲。

My girlfriend and I traveled to Canada the year before last, and plan to go to Africa the year after next year.

前人栽树,后人乘凉。 

Predecessors sow the seed [of trees], and the descendants receive the shade. In English, a similar saying is "Walnuts and pears, you plant for your heirs."

中国人是龙的后人。

Chinese people are the offspring of the Dragon.

 

Left and Right

“左”和“右”

According to the traditional rules of Chinese writing, writing should proceed from up to down and from right to left.

根据中国传统写作规则,书写是从上到下,从右到左的。

  

The Position Mindset

According to a traditional Chinese geographical mindset, east is left and west is right. So, Chinese people always consider themselves to be facing south when they talk about geography.

在中国人传统地理思维中,东方为左,西方为右。所以,中国人看山河地理时,总是面向南方的。

Example:

Left of the river = East of the river

江左 = 江东

 

The Power Position Mindset

 

In traditional Chinese culture, left means breaking the rule or being different with the standard, so right is always more respected than left. The Right Prime Minister's position is higher than the Left Prime Minister's, so "going right" 右迁 means promotion. However, this difference is becoming less important in modern times.

在传统中国文化中,“左”指违反标准,因此“右”往往比“左”更尊贵。“右丞相”比“左丞相”地位要高, 所以“右迁”为提升。不过,在现代社会这种差异越来越被淡化。

 

从方位到区间 – From Position to Range

When you combine 上 and 下, 前 and 后, or 左 and 右 together, used behind a number, this shows that the number is not exact.

当 “上” 和 “下”,“前” 和 “后”,“左”和 “右”合在一起,用在数字后表示数字不确切。

 

上下 – About

上下 is often used after stating an age to show this age is not exact.

上下常用于形容年龄。

他女儿10岁上下。

Her daughter is about 10 years old.

 

前后 – Around/about

 

前后 is often used after a period in time to show this time is not exact.

常用于形容时间或某个特定的时间点或时间段。

 

春节前后,我们喜欢吃汤圆。

We like to eat rice dumplings around the time of the Spring Festival.

Remark: 春节, the Spring Festival, is the most important traditional festival in Chinese culture.

 

他是2012年前后结婚的。

He got married around 2012.

 

左右 – Around/about

 

This is often be used behind any number to show this number is not exact.

几乎可以用在所有数字后,形容数字不确切。

Examples:

吃饭时间是12点左右。

Lunch time is around 12:00.

那人40岁左右。

That man is about 40 years old.

我是2011年左右来上海的。

I moved to the city of Shanghai around 2011.

我弟弟高一米六五左右。

My brother is about 1.65m tall.

2016-06-21

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