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This is a faulty sentence from the HSK6 Standard Course (page 71; photo of original):

她不是看书就是写文章,每天到深夜都忙。

The corrected version is the following (and there's no further explanation):

她不是看书就是写文章,每天都忙到深夜。 [补语位置不当]

I'm perfectly happy to accept the corrected sentence as correct; we often say things like 睡到9点 and 工作到深夜 and 加班到7点, and the given sentence is a correct use of the complement. But I don't understand why the first sentence is incorrect.

With a bit of Googling, this seems to be a generalizable error (and therefore worth knowing):

到7点加班 (✗) 加班到7点 (✓)
到7点学习 (✗) 学习到7点 (✓)
到7点工作 (✗) 工作到7点 (✓)
到7点睡觉 (✗) 睡到7点 (✓)

The impression I'm getting is that if we say 到 + [time] + [verb], then [verb] takes place at and/or after [time] (as opposed to [verb] taking place up until [time], as the speaker intended). So we can say 到深夜才回家 or 到深夜就下班.

Still, there seems to be sentences like these:

他从下午四点,干到凌晨3点多,每天到深夜工作11个小时。 (source)
……,每天到深夜都有顾客,…… (source)
从早上一直到晚上12点都忙碌不停 (source)

It'd be nice to identify the definitive reason the given sentence wrong, so I don't make the same mistake (not just here, but in general).

Question: Why is 每天到深夜都忙 wrong?

3 Answers 3

2

到(time)都(predicate) can only be used when the predicate describes a state, not an action. Compare:

他每天都学习到深夜 (correct)

他每天到深夜都学习 (incorrect)

他每天到深夜都在学习 (correct)

他每天都在学习到深夜 (incorrect)

Another group:

每天到深夜都有顾客 (correct)

每天都有顾客到深夜 (incorrect)

每天都有顾客待到深夜 (correct)

每天到深夜都有顾客待 (incorrect, mainly because 待 is missing its own complement)

每天到深夜工作11个小时

This reads not very natural to me. I would write 每天工作11个小时直到深夜

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I think the problem is with the word 忙. It is not customary to use 忙 alone as a verb. If you replace 忙 with 哭 and write "(她)每天到深夜都哭(v)", then the sentence would be correct. Using 忙 in 每天到深夜都忙 as a verb would require 在 before 忙, e.g. "(她)每天到深夜都在忙"

每天都忙到深夜 is a way to fix the problem of 忙 alone as a verb

每天到深夜都忙於工作 is another way

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Just to say, correct or wrong, without attempting to say why is not helpful.

If you just look at:

(她)每天到深夜都忙.

and you wish to look at language in Greek Propositional Logic terms, with a Subject and a Predicate, which is where the Western Grammar notions come from, there are 3 candidates for the Subject: 她, 天 and 夜.

The Predicate is everything which is not the Subject. 每天, every day, and 到深夜, till late, indicate times and do not describe an object directly. 忙, busy is a 形容词, but can't really describe 天 or 夜.
她 is who we are talking about here and 她 can be described as 忙. Assume she is the Subject.

1. 她忙.
2. 她忙吗?
3. 她每天都忙.

Now, you want to qualify 忙, say something about 忙.

1. 她每天都忙到深夜.  
   She is busy every day till late.

Tang Ho introduced a prepositional phrase:

她每天到深夜都忙於工作.
She is busy with work till late every day.

Now we have 忙於工作, busy with work. 於工作

1. 她工作.
2. 她忙于工作.
3. 她每天都忙于工作.
4. 她每天都忙于到深夜工作.
5. 她每天都忙到深夜于工作.
6. 她每天到深夜都忙于工作

Now which number sentences, from 1 to 6 above do you like, and why?

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