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I'm trying to say, "He goes home once a year". However, I struggle with the correct placement of 一次 in a sentence. I somewhere saw 他每年回一次家, which seems strange to me, is this order correct? 他每年一次回家 seems more appropriate to me.

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他每年一次回家 seems more appropriate to me

No, the [counting word] 一次 has to go after the verb

It has to be [回家(v) + 一次 (counting word)] or [回(v)+ 一次(counting word) + 家(object)]

The difference between 回家一次 and 回一次家:

  • 回家一次 treats 回家 (go home) as a single word and 一次 as a counting word that counts the verb 回家

  • 回一次家 treats 回 (return) as a verb, 家 (home) as an object, and 一次 as a counting word that counts the verb 回

In both cases, the counting word follows the verb

He goes home once a year

Both 他每年回家一次 and 他每年回一次家 are correct translations

Other examples of a counting word following a verb:

  • [駕車][一小時] (drive one hour) --> [verb] + [counting word]

  • [駕][一小時][車] (drive one hour car) --> [verb] + [counting word] + [object]

  • [一小時][駕車] (one-hour drive) is ungrammatical in Chinese, the same as 一次回家

Notice: 一小時駕駛 (one-hour drive) is grammatical because 駕駛 can be treated as a noun

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  • Addition: the difference between 回家一次 and 回一次家 is that the former sounds ever so slightly more formal than the latter.
    – L. F.
    Sep 5 at 4:54

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