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Here I am trying to translate two different English sentences to Chinese.

  1. "My friend is living in America this year."

    He is still living in America at the point of stating this fact.

    Translation : 我的朋友今年住在美国

  2. "My friend lived in America this year."

    Maybe he lived only for an earlier part of the year in America and right now he is living in Hong Kong.

    Translation : 我的朋友今年住在美国

I have understood so far that Chinese is a contextual language. Since both the sentences have the same translation (At least at my level of learning :), could you please show me how to put these sentences in Chinese such that their context is clear.

Also, can it be done without having to share any additional information like he is "currently living in Hong Kong"?

Of course, please correct me if my above translations are incorrect. I was wondering whether we will add 了 in the second sentence as there is a change of state (was living -> not living now).

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My friend is living in America this year.
我朋友今年住在美国。

My friend lived in America for a while this year.
我朋友今年在美国住了一段时间。

Does 'for a while' count as extra info??

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    Wow. Your answer is crisp and precise. That's all what I was looking for. – aymusbond Apr 29 at 8:51
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Chinese language doesn't have tense. To indicate event happened in the past, you need to add time reference in the context or verb particle that indicate past verb

Example:

我的朋友今年在美国(住过) = My friend (had lived) in America this year

过 is a verb particle that indicates 'experienced' aspect of the verb

~

我的朋友今年(曾住)在美国 = My friend (had lived) in America this year

曾 is an adverb that indicates 'once'; formerly

~

You can use either or both in the same sentence:

我的朋友今年(曾)在美国住(过)

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  • Great answer! What about using 了 in the translations? My logic was that there is a change of state (was living -> not living anymore). – aymusbond Apr 29 at 3:18
  • one of the function of 了 is as a verb particle that indicates the verb is 'completed' , it doesn't state it is in the past or future. another function of 了 is as a final particle that indicate the sentence had ended ; add emphasis to the sentence; soften tone of the speech – Tang Ho Apr 29 at 3:25
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    我的朋友今年在美国(住了) 半年 = My friend (lived) in the US for half a year. You need time reference here – Tang Ho Apr 29 at 3:27
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The most common interpretation of your sentence, ”我的朋友今年住在美国。”, is “my friend is living in America this year.” That is the literal meaning of the sentence, before any other particles are added.

To express your first translation, you would add 仍然, which is “still”.

我的朋友今年仍然住在美国。

My friend still lives in America this year.

To express the second translation, you could technically use 曾经, but it would sound like your friend lived in America a very long time ago. I suggest you remove the 今年, since you only want to emphasise that your action occurred a short time ago.

A natural-sounding sentence would be something like this:

我的朋友前一阵子还住在美国,(但过不久他就搬到香港去了。)

You use 还 to describe the situation when your friend was still living in America. You could mention the specific place your friend has moved to, as I have written in the brackets, or you could simply state “但他现在搬到别的地方去了。” (He’s moved to somewhere else.)

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can it be done without having to share any additional information like he is "currently living in Hong Kong"?

You can provide information that show the time is now and negate the situation. In your example, 我的朋友今年住在美國,但現在已經不住美國了。 I use 現在 to show that the time is present 已經不住美國了 to negate 住在美國(living in United State of America). So you don't have to provide more information.

And If the listener want to know whether he still lived in United State of America. He may ask 那他現在還住在美國嗎? So that he can get the answer if people reply him.

I was wondering whether we will add 了 in the second sentence as there is a change of state (was living -> not living now).

Yes I use 但現在已經不住美國了。 There is 了 in the sentence which is used to describe change of state.

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