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I'm wondering how to express a certain function of "actually" in Chinese. Up to now I've always used 其实。But I'm not sure this is right for what I want to express.

How would you translate this: A: 北京冬天天气冷不冷? B: Well, actually I went to Beijing last year and it was very cold.

Would you say: 其实,去年我去了北京,太冷啊!

Thanks very much in advance, I would really love to know the answer to this!

  • I've always used 其实 in this context, but that seems to be non-standard. More common is jìngrán (if you were also surprised by the fact) or bìng if you're emphasizing that the person you're talking to is wrong. So here you could say: Qunian wo qu beijing (de shihou), tianqi bing bu leng! (I can't type characters here, sorry) – KWeiss Jun 9 '16 at 11:39
  • 确实(que4shi2), 的确(di2que4), or 真的(zhen1de0) in this context. 去年我去了北京,的确很冷/确实很冷/真的很冷 – ElpieKay Jun 9 '16 at 15:21
  • jukuu's 100 example sentences for "actually": English starts with "actually", Chinese with 实际上 15, 其实 2, 事实上2, 说实在的1. There also are cases with Chinese starting with one of these but English has "actually" inside the sentence. – user6065 Jun 9 '16 at 17:57
  • As a native speaker, I prefer 其实 than 实际上, but I like to add an 啊 to the end. 其实啊,去年我去了北京,太冷了。 This feels more nature. – Archeosudoerus Jun 9 '16 at 19:49
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It is true that a lot of words in an English conversation such as 'basically', 'well...', 'actually' don't have good one-to-one translation mappings to the Chinese language. 其实has a negating connotation to the context you are trying to convey. I am going to give it a shot and say, here 'actually' could be replaced by 'in fact', which then can be translated to '实际上'.

The whole sentence would now read: ‘实际上,我去年去了北京,很冷啊!’

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As far as I know adding verbal modal particle 了 is enough for marking reality or actuality of the situation. No need in 其实 here cause it can be used in irrealis context too.(habit, wishing, ordering....) in your case 其实 is just a decoration.

P.s. Try translating Your sentence without 了. That is: ,去年我去北京,太冷啊!

P.s.s if you want to stress that "it is cold" then use sentence finale modal particle 了. Like this - 其实,去年我去了北京,太冷了!

  • Sulfly, I feel that you didn't belive me... I hate you! That 了thing is my soft spot. – coobit Jun 10 '16 at 7:15
  • Nope, I do believe you, I cross checked it! I used 了 in my sentence! But if someone question "is beijing cold?" I was more trying to emphasise that, "speaking of which, I actually went to Beijing last year, so I know about whether it's cold or not." That is what I want to express with "actually". Not so much that it actually was cold. – Sulfly Jun 11 '16 at 12:37
  • there are two 了. 了 right after a verb renders the situation to reality(past or future reality). 了 after the whole sentence renders that sentence to present reality. So in your case you have used verbal 了 to say that you went(as a fact in real world) to Beijing. Adding 其实 does not renders the verb to reality, it's just adds an ephasis (makes reality meaning of 了 explicit. Ok, you are forgiven. Maybe I'll reconsider my feelings about you. – coobit Jun 11 '16 at 13:10

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