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I started to learn Chinese like one month ago and I'm facing a first misunderstanding.

In my book it says that can be used to say "soon" but 快要 is also used to express the same thing. Is there a difference or I can use both in every situation?

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3 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

There isn't really a difference in the two if you are using it to mean "soon", except that 快要 is more formal than .

For example:

他快死了。

他快要死了。

Both mean:

He is dying soon.

is just a shorten form of 快要 when used in such context and it is quite commonly used in speech.

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Note: The sentence final is pretty much required. –  Stumpy Joe Pete Aug 8 '12 at 13:53
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For me it's also a matter of emphasis. I feel when used to mean "soon", 快要 is more emphatic than 快.

For example, in the Chinese version of "If you keep doing that, I'm going to go nuts soon", I would prefer to use 快要 to emphasize that I'm going to go nuts soon.

But this is no different from English where people use formality for emphasis. For example, a mother might call her daughter Lucille when she's angry at her but call her Lucy when she's not.

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You can ignore the difference between them when they are used in front of a verb in a sentence. Otherwise we can say "快了" but not "快要了". For example, when asked "他什么时候来?”,one can say "快了" but cannot say "快要了”

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