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I was learning in a Mandarin class and I was kind of stumped on the use of "本来" and "原来" when filling in the blanks in a sentence. Here's my attempt to these questions (taken from 汉语口语速成: 基础篇 pp. 91-92):

  1. 这儿____是个冰场,现在盖起了高楼。(My answer was "原来", the answer is can be both.)
  2. 回国的日子____定在下月二十号,可是因为没有买到机票,就改到二十七号了。(My answer was "本来", the answer is "本来".)
  3. 这盘虾炒得太咸了,虾_____的味道都没有了。(My answer was "本来", the answer is "原来")
  4. 我找了你半天,____你在这儿呀。(My answer was "原来", the answer is can be both.)

There's no problem with the sentence #2 and #3. I got it right on the second sentence. I got it wrong on the third sentence, since I just know that "原来" can be used as an adjective, and the speaker already realized that the taste of the food is not good, hence my mistake.

What makes me confused is the answer of #1 and #4, is it true that either "本来" or "原来" correct in sentence #1 and #4? I thought only one of them can fit.

From what I understand from Chinese Grammar Wiki and some Chinese movies, my thinking is this:

I'm using “本来” when something unexpectedly happened, and the speaker doesn't realize until it happens. But if the speaker accidentally find out or realize the situation has changed, I should use “原来”.

Is my thinking true? If not, then on which case should I use "本来" or "原来"?

UPDATE: Here's another example I got from a movie:

丁鐺:"你們晚上沒演出啊?"

藍雲:"沒有,最近演白天,你一個人來?"

丁鐺:"是的,本來我要去百代試音的,但是我弄錯了日期,是明天。"

The speaker use "本来" here, can it be changed to "原来"?

  • 1: yeah, both works, but I prefer 原来。4: No, 本来 does not work here. – fefe Jun 2 '18 at 8:25
  • @fefe, #1: Why both works? #4: Yeah, 原来 seems the most logical answer here, my answer should be correct here. – Reynaldi Jun 2 '18 at 8:57
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    "实用汉语近义虚词词典"原来(副;形)/原先(名)/本来(副;形) [相同] 都可以作状语,指过去的时间,相当于"以前、从前":句中常出现跟它相对的时间"现在"。有时可以互换:(1)阿里原来在北京大学学习汉语,这个学期才来到我们学校。(本来✓原先✓)(2)原来我们不认识,来到这里以后才认识的。(本来✓原先✓)(3)我记得你原先是不喝酒的。(本来✓原来✓)(4)原先我是不想参加的,但经理一定要我参加。(本来✓原来✓)(5)这事本来没人知道,现在你搞得人人都知道了。(原来✓原先✓)(6)本来我们打算昨天去南山看樱花,但因为下雨就没去。(原来✓原先✓) [不同] 1. 都可以修饰名词作定语:"原来、原先"的意思是"以前的","本来"的意思是"原来就有的,最开始的":"本来"常可换成"原来、原先","原来、原先"不一定能换成"本来":(1)经历了这件事以后,他改变了原来的看法。(原先✓本来✗)(2)他是我原来的同事,现在已经很少联系了。(原先✓本来✗)(3)请大家按原先的计划行动。(原来✓本来✗)(4)你知道这个词本来的意思吗?(本来✓原先✓)(5)这条裤子是我前年买的,本来的颜色不是这样。(本来✓原先✓)(6)这就是他的本来面目。(原来✗、原先✗)。 – user6065 Jun 2 '18 at 11:46
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    "本来"作状语,还可以表示对某行为的评价,意思是"按道理就应该这样",后面常带"就";还可以组成"本来嘛",后面有停顿。"原来、原先没有"这样的用法:(1)朋友之间"本来就应该互相帮助。(原来✗原先✗)(2)孩子本来就应该孝敬父母。(原来✗原先✗)(3)你的病还没好,本来就不应该去嘛。(原来✗原先✗)(4)本来嘛,这事不可能这么顺利。(原来✗原先✗)(5)本来嘛,人生怎么可能一帆风顺?(原来✗原先✗) 3。 "原来'还可以用在前一分句或后一分句的开头,表示发现以前不知道的情况,常与"怪不得、难怪"配合:"本来、原先"没有这样的用法:(1)怪不得他的球踢得那么好,本来当过专业运动员呀!(本来✗原先✗)(2)难怪最近没看到林钢,原来他到上海出差了。(本来✗原先✗)(3)原来是你啊,我还以为是小王呢!(本来✗原先✗)(4)原来你是韩国人呀,我们还以为你是中国人呢!(本来✗原先✗) – user6065 Jun 2 '18 at 11:48
  • @Reynaldi If I can answer why, I would have written an answer. – fefe Jun 2 '18 at 12:59
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'本来' means 'original/ originally/ at first'

For example: "我本来不想去的" (originally, I didn't want to go )

'原来'(the truth from the origin) means 'actually' /as it turns out

For example:

"原来你不想去" (you actually/ don't want to go)/(as it turns out, you don't want to go)

"原来你沒錢去" (you actually don't have money to go)/ (as it turns out, you don't have money to go

'原本' = '本来'

For example: "我原本不想去的" (originally, I didn't want to go)

  • 这儿(本来/原本)是个冰场,现在盖起了高楼。

  • 回国的日子(本来/原本)定在下月二十号,可是因为没有买到机票,就改到二十七号了。

  • 这盘虾炒得太咸了,虾(本来的/ 原本的)味道都没有了。(the original taste)/ 这盘虾炒得太咸了,虾(原来的)味道都没有了。(the actual taste)

  • 我找了你半天,(原来)你在这儿呀。

Many people use 原来 instead of 原本 when they meant "originally" because they think 原来 and 原本 are the same

原本" = “本來” ; "原來 = 其實

  • In fact, in my thinking, 本来 has the sense of meaning "actually". Am I right? I didn't know there's a word "原本", though, that's interesting. – Reynaldi Jun 2 '18 at 9:23
  • Some people also confuse 本来 with 原来 when they meant 'actually' . Just remember 原来 means 'actually' ; 本来 means 'originally' – Tang Ho Jun 2 '18 at 9:45
  • Many people use 原来 instead of 原本 when they meant "originally" because they think 原来 and 原本 are the same Is "原本" = “本来” = "原来" then? – Reynaldi Jun 2 '18 at 10:21
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    原本" = “本来” ; "原来 = 其实 – Tang Ho Jun 2 '18 at 11:50
  • You gave the answer 本来/原本 on sentence #1 and #2. Can they be changed to 原来? – Reynaldi Jun 4 '18 at 4:45
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In my opinion, 1,2,3 can be both. 4 should be filled with 原来.

原来 could be used when you don't know something and then you find it out all of sudden. For example, 原来是你啊! 原来是你干的啊! 本来 can't be used for this sense.

Most of time they are interchangeable.

In your update sentence, 本来 is preferable, and 原来 is not that good. But if you put 原来 in the middle (丁鐺:"是的,我原来要去百代試音的,但是我弄錯了日期,是明天,) that will be ok. This might be because if you put 原来 at the beginning of an sentence, that sounds you have found something all of sudden, which you didn't know. But actually you want to convey the sense originally.

I guess the key might be they are interchangeable within a sentence, but not at the beginning of a sentence!

丁鐺:"是的,本來我要去百代試音的,但是我弄錯了日期,是明天。

Update

I feel this dictionary definition are accurate:

本来

  1. 原来,原先。

杨朔《京城漫记》:“这地方在北京南城角,本来是京城有名的风景区。”

2 . 原有的。

本来面目。

3 .指人本有的心性。

黄人《〈小说林〉发刊词》:“心理之辟,尤在昧厥本来。”

4 .表示理该如此。

本来就该这么办

原来

1 . 当初;未经改变的。

周而复《上海的早晨》:“阿英给奶奶提醒,立即退了回来,把脸盆放在床上原来的地方接水。”

2 . 副词。表示发现从前不知道的情况。

魏巍《东方》:“郭祥勉强睁开眼睛,原来担架停在一面悬崖下。”

I think this should help you a lot if you can understand those definitions in Chinese.

  • Okay, now I'm getting more confused. Could you explain why you say sentence #1 ~ #3 can be both? – Reynaldi Jun 2 '18 at 8:59
  • @Reynaldi sorry for the confusion. I'm not sure what you have learnt. In practice, they are interchangeable most of time. The only case where you can't use 本来 is the one I put it in my answer. As of now, I can not really think of other cases where you can only use one over the other. If you have more examples, I can help you to analysis. Good luck! :) – dan Jun 2 '18 at 9:06
  • I see. Yeah, when I check in dictionary, both of them mean "original / originally". I'm curious what makes them different. I've edited the question for another example. – Reynaldi Jun 2 '18 at 9:33
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    @Reynaldi even in the sense 1 original, there is still a nuance, 原来 has the sense of 当初;未经改变的, referring to the definition 1 of 原来. Well, 本来 connotes what the thing should be originally, usually referring to its 'nature'. In the example of 把脸盆放在床上原来的地方接水, 原来 would sound better than 本来 here, because it denotes the sense of unchanged. – dan Jun 8 '18 at 3:40
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    @Reynaldi sometimes, the nuance in definition 1 is not that important, that's why we can use them interchangeably. Back to your original 4 examples, 1 & 2 can be roughly both. For 3, 本来 sounds better, because 虾本来的味道都没有了 talks about 虾 itself, its 'nature' taste. Well, 虾原来的味道 sounds that originally (in the past or before you put the salt) 虾 taste like. So, that's why I said both can be used for 3, but actually 本来 is more preferable. 4 is very obvious, it should be 原来 as it falls the definition 2 表示发现从前不知道的情况. Hope this could help you out! – dan Jun 8 '18 at 3:55

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