The sentence in its entirety goes as follows:


English translation:

When I was your age I could play the role of Yang Zongbao!

I know translations are not a hundred percent, but I use it in my current routine to make sure I am not missing grammatical functions my mind has not yet got a grasp on. In this case, I am wondering where the potential comes from. Why is it that the speaker did not play Yang Zongba, but rather, cold have played?

票戏 = amateur performance
去 = to play (a role)

The key seems to be 还. Why is 还 here a potential, rather than just used for emphasis?

  • I am fumbling on 去 rather than 还 (yet, also). I don't think the standard Chinese includes the Interpretation of 去 as "to play (a role), but it could happen in a local dialect though.
    – r13
    Jul 17, 2022 at 18:21

2 Answers 2


Actually, the sentence is saying the speaker did play yangzongbao when he was in another guy's age.

还 is used in this sense defined in the dictionaries:

 表示超出预料,有赞叹的语气(express something exceeding expectation)

E.g. 想不到你还真把事儿办成了。

  • Oh. I'm not a native English speaker. Perhaps I misunderstood the English translation, rather than the Chinese original in this case. When I think of it, "I could play" can indeed mean "I could do so and indeed did". Perhaps there is a difference between "could" and "could have" that I have not earlier reflected on. Thank you.
    – timseb
    Jul 17, 2022 at 9:15
  • 1
    I think the English translation using "could" is unwarranted. To me, the English clearly talks about the potential to play the part, not that he actually did. Jul 17, 2022 at 15:40

I feel like the translation would be more accurate if it is

When I was your age I could even play the role of Yang Zongbao!

I think if we translate directly from the original sentence, it is

When I was your age I even played the role of Yang Zongbao!

However, based on the tone of the sencence, "师傅" is bragging about the early experiences in performing. The claim is more likely to be false. Therefore, the it is translated as "could". In addition, if you add "even" in a sentence, the audience will know that you haven't done it.

Please forgive any grammar mistakes in my english.

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