Mandarin Chinese - past tense? (22)

18 Name: ninijo : 2012-03-02 08:56 ID:G4xb/xtz

OK, I can say that a decade of Mandarin has made me a reluctant bilingual or trilingual if I consider French, but I was never an avid user of Chinese (my mother tongue), and I consider English as my primary language.
You can use explicit references of time like
in English tone is just for phrase emphasis but in Chinese it makes a whole lot of difference.
1 flat
2 up
3 retro-circumflex (up-down)
4 down
yesterday 昨天 zuo(2)tian(1)
today 今天 jin(1)tian(1)
tomorrow 明天 ming(2)tian(1)
the day after 后天 hou(4)tian(1)
last/next week/month 上/下个星期/月
and qu(4)nian(2)jin(1)nian(2)/ming(2)nian(2)/hou(4)nian(2)
for years

Usage pronoun+time frame+ qualifier + action + any appropriate expressive words like le(4)

Past tense
has perfect tense/participle
wo(3)yi(3)jing(1)+verb/action eg,chi(1)fan(4)+le(4)

我(point of time)已经吃饭了 (it would be weird to omit le 了 here)
so 已经 represents that you had already done something you can add a time frame (here)

or 我吃过饭了 -just mean that something has happened  

  guo(4)  le is optional here

or 我吃完饭了。 - you can do away with le here
   wan(2)-to finish
le in this context is sort of to express your urgency in replying or emphasize that you are about to finish your current action

this makes sentences sound more complete by adding descriptors or adjectives

Present continous
has 正在 (currently)in the process of doing something or it refers to now
我正在吃饭 - I am eating now
the exact translation would be eating rice, but of course rice is a staple, so it simply refers to eating a meal.
or 早/午/晚餐 breakfast.....
zao(3)/wu(3)/Wan(3)can(1)or (cHan)though official hanyupinyin is can
another marker would be 着 (zhe)4, though I prefer the first one as you have to insert it in between chi and fan or chi zhe wan can

The near future (about to)
要(yao)4 - to want
快要 (kuai)4(yao)4 - about to
so it's wo kuai yao chi fan le - le is just an expression
I'm about to eat (now)

马上 ma(3)shang(4)- immediately
我马上要吃饭(了)。 - I about to eat immediately

But you can add a time frame like 3 months later (三个月后) like when you're going for vacation

Distant future

I will certainly come here again in future.

会hui(3)-something that takes the place of 'will' and perhaps add a qualifier of confirming that you will definitely 肯定 ken(3)ding(4) do an action

以后 yi(3)hou(4) - the next time/sometime later

再 zai(4) again

expression of a possiblity
可能 ke(3)neng(2) - may/maybe/perhaps
能 alone by itself mean can
I may come here again.

that probably sums up all you need to know
they are qualifiers or adverbs

but basic syntax is only the beginning. the next step is to amass a whole plethora of common idioms or 4 word phrases that are commonly used grab a PRC newspaper

it really takes someone with a good memory to remember thousands of characters.

Each time you learn a character, learn how you can form compound words to create proper nouns

there are only 26 letters in the Latin alphabet but with all those strokes, you will need to memorize them. even Japanese hiragana represent sounds (so there are up to 30-40 of them only.

Au revoir
Good luck and persevere

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