On the website "archchinese" there are a few expressions using 在 followed by a part of sentence ending with 之余, 之前, 之后, 之际 :
在 … 之余 在 … 之前 在 … 之后 在 … 之际
Anyone can give a few explanations ? maybe exemples of sentences ?
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之(N) = of(N)
在 X 之余 (at the outside of X) = outside of X
在 X 之前 (at the before of x) = before X
在 X 之后 = (at the after of X) = after X
在 X 之時 = (at the time of X) = during/ when X
在 X 之际 = (at the moment of X) = at the moment of X
在工作之余 = outside of work
在工作之前 = before work
在工作之后 = after work
在工作之时 = during/ when work
在下班之际 = At the moment of getting off work
More detailed example:
他在工作之余操练柔道 -- he practices Judo outside of work (when not working)
在工作之前要先做好安全措施 -- safety measures must be taken first before work
在工作之后要好好休息 -- need to rest well after work
在工作之时不能上网 -- you can't go online during/ when work
我在下班之际才想起还要开会 -- At the moment of getting off work, I remembered that there's still a meeting I have to attend
Note 1: 之余，之前，之后，之时，之际 are all basically compoundwords
Note 2: except for #1, it is more natural to omit 在 in all the examples above
Note 3: 之 in 工作之前，工作之后， and 工作之时 can also be omitted
之 is like
的 ('of') here. We use
的, to match with the monosyllabic words
|在～之餘||at the residual of ~||besides ~|
|在～之前||at the front of ~||(temporal) before ~|
|在～之後||at the rear of ~||(temporal) after ~|
|在～之際||at the moment of ~||at the time/moment of ~|
在 is optional unless when pinpointing a specific / exact time is absolutely needed.
在A之餘，B puts two things next to one another, with or without contrast. A is more important than B, but still B worths a mention.
a. 在工作之餘，他也會抽時間讀書。 Besides working, he also finds time to study.
b. 他要出國讀書，我們替他高興之餘，也感到不捨。 He is going to study abroad. We are happy for him, but at the same time, we will miss him here.
In a., there is no contrast, and he works more often than he studies.
In b., there is some contrast, and we feel mostly happy, although we still miss him.
在A之前，B means 'before A, B occurs'.
在A之後，B means 'after A, B occurs'. The use of
後 is strictly temporal, so in the following example:
a. 在他之前，已有數十人通過不了面試。 Before him, there are already dozens of people who failed the interview.
We mean dozens of people went to the interview before he did. The people are temporally before him, not spatially before him.
Of the four constructions, only
在～之前/後 can have
b. 洗手(之)後才可吃飯。 Only eat your meal after you have washed your hands.
在A之際，B is similar to
在A 之時/的時候，B, both meaning 'at the time of A, B occurs'. But there are some specific nuances for
a. 離別之際，眾人紛紛掏出手帕拭淚。 At the moment of parting, all drew their handkerchiefs to wipe their tears.
Here in a., we use a rather formal noun
離別 ('parting') within
在～之際. In fact the degree of formality is higher when we use
時. Other examples are:
彌留之際 (at the time of dying),
新年之際 (at the time of the new year) etc.
b. 正當他一籌莫展之際，一個大富翁出現了。 Right at the time when he was absolutely helpless, a billionaire showed up.
c. 在他轉身離開之際，我才記起這個人是誰。 Only at the time when he turned around and leave did I remember who this person was.
In b. and c., either the situation is very pressing, or the action does not last long / have not been done for a long period of time. It reads like 'right at the moment/time of A, B occurs'. Note not all
在A之際，B carries this nuance (sentence a. does not, there's only formality).
Also in c., it is better to not omit
在 because we are referring to a very specific moment in time here.