4

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?

  • 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
9

"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。

  • Welcome to the site, and thanks for your answer. – Don Kirkby Sep 27 '12 at 19:46
2

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".

  • Your understanding is perfect! – 杨以轩 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. – 杨以轩 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
2

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

  • 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

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