City University of Hong Kong CLASS CLASS
Making Sense of Grammar
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asked Jun 10 in Questions about Chinese Grammar by Ariel (34,480 points)
edited Jun 18 by Ariel | 24 views

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Used in context denoting time, the two adverbs are antonymous. ‘cái’ means ‘later than the expected time’, sometimes implying that the event in question does not go smoothly; and ‘jiù’ means ‘sooner or earlier than the expected time’.

1a. 我们八点开会,他八点半到。

Wǒmen bā diǎn kāihuìtā bā diǎn bàn cái dào.

(The meeting began at eight o’clock, but he didn’t come until eight thirty.)

1b. 电话打了几次通。

Diànhuà dǎ le jǐ cì cái dǎtōng.

(Only after dialing a few times did the line go through.)

1c. 去了几趟找到经理。

Qùle jǐ tàng cái zhǎodào jīnglǐ.

(Only after going there a few times did I see the manager.)

2a. 你在这儿等等,我一会儿就来。

Nǐ zài zhèr děngdengwǒ yīhuìr jiù lái.

Wait here for a while, I’ll be back in a minute.)

2b. 他学开车,不几天就学会了。

Tā xué kāichēbùjǐtiān jiù xuéhuì le.

(He learned how to drive only in a few days.)

2c. 冬天下午五点多钟天就黑了。

Dōngtiān xiàwǔ wǔ diǎn duō zhōng tiān jiù hēi le.

(In the winter it becomes dark a little after five o’clock.)

‘cái’ in (1a) denotes that the event of coming happens later than expected, in (1b, c), it implies that the situations described by the sentences go slowly and unsmoothly. By contrast, the adverb ‘jiù’ in (2a) indicates that the events happen earlier than expected, in (2b), ‘jiù’ signals that the situation of learning to drive occurs sooner and faster than expected.

[1] Loar, J. K. (2011). Chinese syntactic grammar: functional and conceptual principles. New York: Peter Lang.

answered Jun 10 by Ariel (34,480 points)

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