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How to tell 本来 (běn lái) from 原来 (yuán lái)


If something was originally a certain way, or "should be" a certain way, two words, "本来" (běn lái) and "原来" (yuán lái), are often used in daily Chinese conversation. Sometimes they are interchangeable, but they are also used in different ways depending on the context. Today we will talk about how to use them correctly!

在日常的中文对话中,"本来" (běn lái) 和"原来" (yuán lái) 经常用来表示"某物最初就是或者应该就是某个样子"。 这两个词有时可以互换,但是根据上下文的不同,它们的用法有时也不同。今天,我们要来谈谈如何正确地使用这两个词。

Let's take a first look at their respective meanings:

首先让我们来看一下这两个词各自的意思。

本来 (běn lái)


1. 本来 can be used as an adjective. For example:

"本来"可以用作形容词,比如:

Zhè búshì wǒ běnlái de yòngyì

这不是我本来的用意。

This is not my original purpose.

2. a. 本来 can also be used as an adverb indicating "originally, at first, to begin with". It can be placed before or after subject. For example:

"本来"也可以作副词,表示"最初、起先、开始",可以放在主语之前或之后。比如:

Tā běnlái bù xǐhuān zhège gōngzuò, hòulái mànman jiù xíguàn le

他本来不喜欢这个工作,后来慢慢就习惯了。

At first he didn't like this job, but later he got used to it.

b. It can also mean "naturally, it goes without saying" or "supposed to" and often used in the structure: 本来+就+verb. For example:

"本来"也可以表示"自然地,不言而喻地"或者"应该",经常用于该结构"本来+就+动词"。比如:

Nǐ běnlái jiù yīnggāi jīntiān zuò wán zhèxiē zuòyè

你本来就应该今天做完这些作业。

You were supposed to have finished this homework today.

原来 (yuán lái)

1. 原来 can be used as a noun to mean "the beginning, the past". It indicates that the situation described in the clause or sentence following is different from that in the past. 原来 can be placed before or after the subject. For example:

"原来" 可以作为名词,意为"开始、过去",表示从句或紧接着的句子中所描述的情形与过去的不一样,可以放在主语之前或之后。比如:

Yuánlái Běijīng méiyǒu zhème duō lóufáng

原来北京没有这么多楼房。

In the past, there were not so many buildings.

2. 原来 can be used as an adjective to mean "original, unaltered". It cannot be used alone as the predicate. When it modifies a noun, "的" should be used after it. For example:

"原来"可以用作形容词,意为"最初的、未改变的"。它可以单独用作谓语。当它用于修饰名词时,应放在"的"之前。比如:

àn yuánlái de jìhuà yīnggāi shì liǎngzhōu, dànshì wǒmen kěyǐ tíqián wánchéng

按原来的计划应该是两周,但是我们可以提前完成。

According to the original plan, it will take two weeks to finish the work, but we can finish it ahead of schedule.

3. a. 原来 can also be used as an adverb to indicate "a certain period in the past", meaning something /somebody has changed now. For example:

"原来"也可以用作副词,表示"过去的某段时间",意为"某物/某人现在已经发生变化"。比如:

Tā yuánlái shì jìzhě, xiànzài yǐjīng chéngwéi yìmíng lǎoshī

她原来是记者,现在已经成为一名老师。

She was a journalist, (but) now she is a teacher.

b. The adverb 原来 can also indicate the discovery of formerly unknown situation, more used to emphasize what the speaker accidentally find out or realize. It's similar to "as it turns out…" For example:

"原来"作为副词时,也可以用来表示"发现原来不知道的情形",经常用于强调说话者偶然发现或意识到的东西,类似于"as it turns out…". 比如:

Yuánlái shì nǐ! Wǒ hái yǐwéi shì xiǎolǐ ne

原来是你!我还以为是小李呢.

It turns out that it's you! I thought it was Xiao Li!

There's another word "原本" which has the same meaning with "本来 (originally)", while more formal than 本来, it's less commonly used in spoken Chinese.

还有另外一个词"原本",它的意思与"本来"相同,但是比"本来"正式,口语中比较不常用。

Summary:

总结:

Similarities:

相同点:

1. Both can be used as adjectives, indicating "original, unaltered". For example:

"本来"与"原来"都可以用作形容词,表示"最初的、未改变的"。比如:

Yǐjīng kàn bù chūlái (zhè jiàn yīfú) yuánlái/běnlái de yánsè le

已经看不出来(这件衣服)原来/本来的颜色了.

(One/you) can't tell what the original color was.

2. Both can be used as adverbs, indicating "the situation in the past is different from that at present", both can be placed before or after the subject. For example:

"本来"与"原来"都可以用作副词,表示"过去的情形与现在不一样了",两者都可以放在主语之前或之后。比如:

Běnlái /yuánlái wǒ shì xué yīngyǔ de, hòulái xué le fǎyǔ

本来/原来我是学英语的,后来学了法语. 

I was originally studying English, and then studied French.

Differences:

不同点:

When 原来 is used as an adverb, it can indicate "a formerly unknown situation has been found out"; When 本来 is used as an adverb, it can indicate "it should have been like this" For examples:

"原来"用作副词时,可以表示"以前不知道的情形现在被发现了";而"本来"用作副词时,可以表示"本应如此"。比如:

Wǒ zài hòumian jiào tā, kě tā yìzhí méi huítóu. Děng dào le tā shēnbian, cái fāxiàn yuánlái wǒ rèn cuò rén le

我在后面叫她,可她一直没回头。等到了她身边,才发现原来我认错人了。

I kept calling her, but she never looked back. When I stood by her side, it turned out I'd mistaken someone else for her!

Zhè běn shū běnlái yīnggāi zuótiān huán gěi nǐ, zhēn bùhǎo yìsī

这本书本来应该昨天还给你,真不好意思。

This book was supposed to have been returned to you yesterday, so sorry. 


The article is translated and editted by Chinlingo. Please indicate the source for any use, reproduction or transfer. 

本文由Chinlingo编译后发布,如需转载,请标明来源。


2016-06-23

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