I want to say

1) "I lived in Beijing for six months."

As in, I was there last year for six months but I am not living there anymore.

Furthermore, how can I distinguish it from

2) "I have been living in Beijing for six months."?

I am sure the secret lies in 了.

My answers (which I hope you can correct/confirm):

  1. 我在北京住了六个月
  2. 我住在北京六个月

I'd appreciate any help!


4 Answers 4


I would say, as a Chinese, that Chinese language doesn't express tenses as explicitly and clearly as English does in most cases. Your translation of the first sentence(我在北京住了六个月) can be taken in both ways, in which case we figure out the tense by context. Past tense would be a better guess, though.

To remove uncertainties, you can say:

我在北京住六个月。I lived in Beijing for six months.

我在北京住六个月。I have been living in Beijing for six months.

Or for added clarity:

在北京住六个月。I once lived in Beijing for six months.

已经在北京住六个月。I have been living in Beijing for six months already.


(1)我在北京住过6个月。我在北京住了六个月 seems ok too (2)我已经在北京住了6个月。

as regards word order if 在 follows 住:


In fact 在了 seems to be a familiar sequence,also one can find example sentences online with 住在了,iciba immediately produces 3 of them, here is the first: 当他年老的时候他住在了一个群岛上, 远离这里.

In case 了 is replaced by 过,it seems the corresponding word order has to be


There are examples of this on the web (although apparently not in iciba):住过在大学城,有人住过 在Imerovigli的Shine Hotel吗?

  • So "在北京" ALWAYS comes before "住"?
    – salamander
    Commented Nov 10, 2014 at 9:30
  • Good answer except that there is no 住过在. It should always be 在...住过. Your first example is casual speech in which grammar is unimportant, the second one is actually structured as 住过((在..的)Hotel), there is a difference. Commented Nov 11, 2014 at 0:44
  • I've never seen the 在了 sequence before. Is there a difference in meaning between 住在了 and 在...住了?
    – salamander
    Commented Nov 11, 2014 at 1:45
  • 我住在了北京 is okay (the meaning is slightly different as it conveys a sense that I settled down in Beijing not somewhere else) but 我已经住在了北京6个月 sounds ungrammatical. It should be 我已经在北京住了6个月
    – user58955
    Commented Nov 11, 2014 at 7:58
  • 住在(larger geographical unit)seems to be a very common phrase,but since original question concerned sentences containing 过 or 了,users must have been wondering why the other answer bringing up the possibility of placing 住 after the verb did not discuss what are the options with 过 or 了 present。Users with some reading experience would naturally place 在北京 before 住 in that case。"住过在北京" sounds unfamiliar,and there also seemed to be suspiciously few examples on the web containing the sequence 住过在。continued
    – user6065
    Commented Nov 11, 2014 at 15:51

I am just trying to express in a natural way, I cannot tell you exactly why but it is what I have found:

  1. 我在北京住半年。

  2. (最近)我在北京住满半年。/我在北京住半年。

I have just lived in Beijing for 6 months (and it is so short, compared to what I expected.)

(have been doing signifies the continuation of a past action.)

I believe what you want to say is

  1. 我在北京住了六个月。(I would rather translate it "It was 6 months I lived in Beijing.")

  2. 我住在北京六个月了。("It has been 6 months (since) I lived in Beijing.")


Chinese people like to make the tenses explicit:

  1. 在北京住6个月。

  2. 已经在北京住6个月了。

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