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I have been reading a text, that I broadly understand, but which is still too advanced for me to grasp in every detail. The complete text can be found here.

In the text there appears a passage:

回家變賣典質,父親還了虧空;又借錢辦了喪事。

I interpret this as:

upon returning home, father pawned some (of our) belongings and called in a debt. Moreover he borrowed some money, to (be able to) tend to the matter of the funeral.

But I am very unsure, whether I translated 還虧空 correctly. I found 虧空 in several dictionaries, but never with 還!

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虧空 is debt

還 is repay (還款) here.

so, 還了虧空 is repay the debt.

have fun

  • Thank you! So, it really means he payed what he owed Person A, just to become indebted to B?! – Ludi Apr 19 '17 at 18:48
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    possibly. considering a scenario that everyone is poor, or, not so rich, one would borrow money from A, after some period, he's "obliged" to repay. he may pawn, or borrow from B, just to repay to A. these may happen again and again. – 水巷孑蠻 Apr 19 '17 at 19:10
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"回家變賣典質,父親還了虧空;又借錢辦了喪事。"

"We went back home, liquidated some properties and valuable thing. My father used that cash to settle the debt. After that, he borrowed some money for the grandma's funeral. "

There's a article in Chinese to indicate how to use the verb and noun properly in English. You could think in a reversed way.

“亏空” is a verb. But in this case, it is used as a noun. It's similar to "Jana's sleeping was sometimes an escape from studying."

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  • 還了 This means that 還 is a verb meaning "repay" rather than a adverb meaning "still".

  • 虧空 means debt.

So this sentence told us: My father repaid his debt.

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