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I'm getting confused about whether 我在医院工作 means:

  1. I work in a hospital or
  2. I'm working in a hospital at the moment.

To clarify, in the first option I mean that hospital is my day-to-day place to go, I'm possibly a nurse or a doctor. In the second option, I mean I'm at the moment working in a hospital, but there should be no assumptions about my daily life in general. To put it in other words: does it translate to English tense Present Simple or Present Continuous?

3 Answers 3

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  1. 我在医院工作 = I work for a hospital

  2. 我""在医院工作 = I am working in the hospital right now.

  3. 我"即將"在医院工作 = I am going to work for a hospital.

  4. 我"曾經"在医院工作 = I'd worked in a hospital.

ˋ The first sentence is a general statement without any time indicator. The rest three are modified by the tense indicators - 正, 即將, and 曾經.

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我正在這家醫院工作:I'm working in this hospital. Could be working in a different hospital later.
我正在醫院工作:I'm working in a hospital. Could be working in a different (non-hospital) institute later.

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It actually depends on the context, because mandarin is more focused on the context to explain time occurrence rather than the grammar (I mean, yes they do exist, but not that emphasized). 我在医院工作 can means I work in a hospital as well as I'm working in a hospital at the moment (it depends on the context). Because, usually if people want to express an activity which is currently in progress they will put the verb directly after the or putting complete 正在 to emphasize the activity which is currently in progress, like example 我在医院在(or 正在)工作 or 我正在医院工作.

To clarify, in the first option I mean that hospital is my day-to-day place to go, I'm possibly a nurse or a doctor. In the second option, I mean I'm at the moment working in a hospital, but there should be no assumptions about my daily life in general.

But about the assumption about the specific job is depends on the context, it will not specify if you are a doctor, nurse, or anything. Both sentence just describe the place where you work. Like:

A: 你在忙碌吗?我们什么时候能应酬? B: 我在医院工作。下以后我来联系吧。

Here it means that the speaker is currently at the hospital working (present continous). But this example:

A: 你毕业以后在哪里工作? B:我在医院工作。 A:什么专长?(what is your expertise) B: 外科医生。(surgeon)

Here, I assume that both speaker were medic student college friend in the past who are talking about the current professions after graduation. Even if in the later part of conversation the speaker B specify the expertise, it still not specifying if the job is doctor, nurse, or anything. And here the 我在医院工作 becomes present tense. Again, it is the context.

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