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Since 已经 is an adverb I thought I'd always have to put it before the verb like in:

1) 这对老人已经相爱三十多年了

2) 他已经睡四个小时了

But I found a sentence on my book that say:

他们恋爱已经一年多了

It should translate to "They have been in love for more than 1 year already", right? Then why 已经 is placed after and not before the verb?

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已经 (already) can be placed before or after the verb in both Chinese and English if it is followed by a time period

这对老人(已经相爱)三十多年了 = this old couple have already been in love for more than 30 years

这对老人相爱(已经三十多年了) = this old couple have been in love for more than 30 years already

他(已经睡了)四个小时了 = he has already been sleeping for four hours

他睡了(已经四个小时了) = he has been sleeping for four hours already

他们(已经恋爱)一年多了 = they have already been in love for over a year

他们恋爱(已经一年多了) = they have been in love for over a year already

If it is not followed by a time period then 已经 (already) must be placed before the verb

Example:

(已经问)了他' (had already asked him) cannot be changed to '问了他已经'

(已经问了)他一年' (have already asked him for a year) can be changed to 问了他(已经一年)

In short, when there's no time period at the end, the adverb '已经' must be placed before the verb; if there is a time period at the end , then 已经 is functioning as the adverb for the omitted verb '经过' or '有' in 已经(经过/有)一年

They are in fact two different types of Chinese grammar structures

"已经问了他" is a [verb + object] structure with '问了' as the verb and '他' as the object

"问了他已经一年" is a [topic + comment] structure, in which, '问了他' is the topic and '已经一年' is the comment

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  • There's no more to ask, really clear answer. Thanks a lot! – Don't Care Aug 24 '18 at 19:18

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