A couple of Chinese dictionaries I used says for 以来, part of speech is 名 (noun).

Since in an English dictionary says preposition first.

Is it incorrect to assume a direct correlation between parts of speech between Chinese and English?


There has been an argument for this topic.

In this article, the author stated that "以来" is a "方位词". Which can be seen in reference 5 and 12, it is also refered to as "动态助词".

"方位词" is a type of noun in Chinese, which represents the location (of space / time).

"动态助词" is a type of Chinese particle, you can read it from the link.

Now let's get back to the disagreement. "以来" is defined as a "方位词" in《现代汉语八百词》by 吕叔湘 while is is again defined as a "动态助词" in《现代汉语虚词词典》by 侯学超.

However, "动态助词" also gets its formal definition in《现代汉语八百词》. So if you ask me, I prefer to believe it is a "方位词", which is noun.

As for the different part of speech of the word "since" appearing in English, I guess it is because that "since" is translated as "自……以来", not just "以来". "自……以来" IS a preposition.

  • I agree that 以来 is a 方位词 (location word), but I disagree that 方位词 are nouns. Grammatically they behave like postpositions (similar to prepositions, but they are placed after their complements instead of before). One of your sources calls them 方位名词, but while 名词 is typically translated as "noun" in English, I don't believe that's the right translation in this particular case. The 名 in this case simply indicates that the word names a location, but it doesn't necessary imply it is a noun. – Claw Oct 15 '13 at 19:08
  • 2
    I found a paper that also goes into depth about what I mentioned: conf.ling.cornell.edu/pdfs/Newcastle_final_for_OUP.refs.pdf "We show in this paper that both prepositions and postpositions are adpositions, contrary to the view that the latter are nouns." – Claw Oct 15 '13 at 19:14
  • @Claw, when I saw your comments, I reconsidered it and also checked some Chinese literature like this, this, this,this, this – shuangwhywhy Oct 15 '13 at 20:47
  • @Claw, finally, I found you are right for the point that it is not a noun. It is a part of 'Circumpositions (框式结构)' in Chinese. See “连动介式"介词框架 – shuangwhywhy Oct 15 '13 at 20:51
  • 以来 can be used by itself, e.g., - 这是建国以来我们第一次发射人造卫星。 It is therefore defined as a postposition. It can also be used as part of a circumposition as you mentioned. – deutschZuid Oct 16 '13 at 0:39

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