Take the 2-minute tour ×
Chinese Language Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for students, teachers, and linguists wanting to discuss the finer points of the Chinese language. It's 100% free, no registration required.

My newsletter says this sentence

我五分钟后就回来。

is translated as "I'll be back in 5 minutes".

I am curious to know whether this sentence could be translated as "I came back 5 minutes ago", or does it need to be changed? If so, how and why?

share|improve this question
2  
Did you mean to ask if it could also be "I came back 5 minutes later."? That would be a more interesting question. –  Stumpy Joe Pete Sep 2 '12 at 16:48
    
@StumpyJoePete: I did not, but it is an interesting question! –  dr Hannibal Lecter Sep 8 '12 at 15:55

3 Answers 3

up vote 8 down vote accepted

"I'll be back in 5 minutes" is the only correct translation for this sentence.

"I came back 5 minutes ago" is

我5分钟前就回来了。

share|improve this answer
    
Welcome to the site, and thanks for your answer. –  Don Kirkby Sep 27 '12 at 19:46

I am not sure, but I think "in 5 minutes" here doesn't mean "5分钟后". For example, now it's 00:12.

When I say "I will be back in 5 minutes", I mean "I will have come back by 00:17. I probably come back at 00:13, or 00:14". In this case, I will say, in Chinese, "我5分钟内回来“。

When I say "I will be back 5 minutes later". I mean "I will be back at 00:17,". In this case, I will say, in Chinese, "我5分钟后回来“。

Please correct me if I misunderstand "in 5 minutes" and "5 minutes later".

share|improve this answer
    
Your understanding is perfect! –  Question Overflow Sep 3 '12 at 13:45
1  
I don't agree. If I say "I'll be back in 5 minutes" at 00:12, I'm saying I'll be back at 00:17. –  Stumpy Joe Pete Sep 3 '12 at 19:45
    
@StumpyJoePete, strictly speaking, "in" means within a certain time period, but usage wise I tend to agree with you. –  Question Overflow Sep 4 '12 at 3:37
    
I'm just saying that that is how I use it. I can't tell you how other English speakers interpret it, but for me, it's definitely 过X分钟之后 –  Stumpy Joe Pete Sep 4 '12 at 3:40
    
@Huang: Useful answer, thanks! –  dr Hannibal Lecter Sep 8 '12 at 15:56

I believe this sentence should be translated as "I will be back after 5 mins"

"I'll be back in 5 minutes" should be

我在五分钟内回来

share|improve this answer
1  
I don't agree. If I say "I'll be back in 5 minutes" at 00:12, I'm saying I'll be back at 00:17. –  Stumpy Joe Pete Sep 3 '12 at 19:45

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.