I've been trying to translate the 2nd following sentence.



The google translate shows the following sentence translating it.

It has been unable to keep up with the rotation of the earth

The deepl shows the below.

That's why we can't keep up with the Earth's orbit.

  • 一直 = continuously
  • 追 = chase
  • 不 = not
  • 上 = upon, above
  • 地球 = the earth
  • 运转 = rotation (about orbit in this case?).

I've browsed usages and meanings of "才" but I've been unable to reach to the correct one which corresponds to 2nd sentence.

But reading the original sentence multiple times and comparing the translation made via google translate and 2nd sentence, led me find the following equation.

才 + (verb with modifier(adjective, adverb, null, or sth) + 不 = Unable to (expression between letters 才,不)

Using above rule, now I got the following translated sentence.

Unable to chase(keep the speed?) continuously on(with?) earth's orbital rotation.

I am bit afraid that I might have missed the definition(from the websites and the book) which can be applied to the original sentence.

How can I parse the original sentence?

  • 1
    才一直追不上地球的运转 is an incomplete sentence, something has to be in front of it. e.g. 因為XXXX, 才YYYY
    – Tang Ho
    Commented Oct 24, 2022 at 11:24
  • 1
    That sentence is one of lyrics in the song, and the preceding lyric is 怕我会把航线图弄反。BTW the full set of lyrics is at here wayv.fandom.com/wiki/…
    – TG24
    Commented Oct 24, 2022 at 11:34
  • 才 and 不 are two separate constructions.
    – lilysirius
    Commented Oct 24, 2022 at 17:24

2 Answers 2


Lost in Space! Goodbye Major Tom!

In the lyrics of a modern song, strict adherence to perceptions of correct grammar and or syntax may spoil the broth, so to speak.

Some measure of training vis-à-vis the right way to hold a map may be useful when one is an astronaut!

Afraid I'll hold the flight map upside down,
and never achieve earth orbit (an allusion to not getting the girl mayhap?)

一直:always, all the time: 一直 is negated, after the fact, by the following不 which turns "always" into "never" similar to 从来 ... always and 从来不 ... never or 从来没有 ...

I haven't had any luck finding a job yet.

追不上:not catch, not reach



IMO, the translation by "deepl" got it right. on here, "才" connects two phrases, with the leading phrase being the cause/reason, and the latter being the effect/explanation. But the example sentence provided an incomplete reason, so rendered it difficult to translate. The complete sentence should be modified as:

  • 怕我会把航线图弄反, (我調整了XX), 一直追不上地球的运转

  • Out of afraid/because of that I'll put the flight route map in reverse, (I adjusted XX to eliminate the chance of making mistake), for that reason/so we can't catch/match up the revolving movement of the earth.

I don't quite the question in the title, but here is an example that may be the answer:

  • 昨天我請了病假, "才不"去上課 - I called in sick yesterday, so I could need not go to class (without getting punished). = I called in sick yesterday, so I can skip the class (without being punished).

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