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我向银行贷款买了一处房子. What is the correct translation of this sentence? And also, what's the usage of 向 in the sentence?

Thanks a lot for all the help!!

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    Just wonder since when the unit of house became 處.
    – joehua
    Aug 28 at 6:10
  • Joe, in quotes, I just googled "一处房子" and it returned 750K+ results. It was also my first time seeing 处 used for a house. I've seen it used for things like ancient ruins, right? Aug 29 at 10:57
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Prepositions are funny things, they can swap their meanings around, depending on your point of view and your language. Thus 'to' can become 'from'.

望向窗外。
look from/to window out
Gaze out of the window.

向银行贷款
get a loan from the bank
从银行贷款
get a loan from the bank

我向银行贷款买了一处房子。
I borrowed money from the bank to buy a house.

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  • Hey, I definitely understand now, but I don't understand why this particular usage of 向 is not in any dictionary or grammar resource I can access online. I know you're correct (and I know the others are also correct in this usage of 向), but why do you think this usage of 向 isn't in any Chinese-learning resource online? After you guys told me it means 'from' (like "obtained from"), I realized I've seen this usage many times before. So you'd think this would be in some learning resource, but I cannot find one. Thoughts? And thanks for your answer!!! <3 Aug 26 at 5:49
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I bought a house by obtaining a mortgage from the bank.

In this sentence, 向 = 從, means "from".

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'I bought a house on mortgage' is how I'd translate, but literally it would be 'I got a mortgage from a bank and bought a house'.

'向' could mean 'at', 'with' or 'from' depending on the context, here it means 'from'.

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According to dictionaries, 向:

介词

引进动作的方向或对象

It can introduce not only the direction but also the object of the verb.

E.g. 向他借钱 means you applies the action(借钱) upon the object 他.

Other examples: 向他打听/向他问路/etc.

This sense of 向 is more or less relevant to the sense "towards". For interpretation, you may use "to" or "from" according to context.

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向 in this context is a form of, (perhaps not exactly), an auto-antonym which are words that are the opposite of themselves when used in different context.

(Note:- an antonym is a word that expresses a meaning opposed to the meaning of another word)

Examples of auto-antonyms are:-

"left", (departed from), or (remaining);

"put out", (to generate), or (to extinguish);

"root", (to remove completely), or (to be firmly established)

So, 向 in general usage means "towards", "to face in the direction of"

However, in the context of 我向银行..., it becomes "from", thereby becoming an auto-antonym of "towards"

So, how did 向 go from "towards" to "from" in this context?

When you want something "from" someone, whether for a favor or to challenge that person, you would "face towards the direction" of that person, (and not to give a view of your backside) However, you are actually trying to get something "from" and not moving "towards" that person.

Therefore, when you 向银行贷款, you are "facing towards" or rather "approaching towards" the bank with the intention of obtaining a loan "from" the bank.

Finally, for completeness sack, "to challenge someone to a duel" is -- 我向你挑战决斗, (which of course also fits in nicely with the sagely advice, "never turn your back on your enemy") Here, what you want is to get either a cowardly refusal or a brave affirmative to your challenge "from" the enemy.

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