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Expressing "when" with "shi"

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By now you should now how to express "when" using 的时候 (de shíhou). But there's also a slightly shorter, more formal way to do it: simply use 时 (shí) all by itself. (No 的!)

Structure

Time + 时 ,Subj. ⋯⋯

As time words can appear before or after the subject, you can also place the "Time + 时" phrase after the subject.

Examples

  • 考试 不要 说话 。Kǎoshì shí bùyào shuōhuà.Don't talk when you're taking a test.
  • 我 面试 经常 会 问 这个 问题 。Wǒ miànshì shí jīngcháng huì wèn zhège wèntí.I often ask this question during job interviews.
  • 会议 结束 老板 才 来 。Huìyì jiéshù shí lǎobǎn cái lái.The boss didn't show up until the meeting was over.
  • 我 生气 不 想 说话 。Wǒ shēngqì shí bù xiǎng shuōhuà.I don't want to talk when I'm angry.
  • 他们 大学 毕业 就 分手 了 。Tāmen dàxué bìyè shí jiù fēnshǒu le.They broke up when they graduated from college.
  • 飞机 起飞 ,他 关 了 手机 和 电脑 。Fēijī qǐfēi shí, tā guān le shǒujī hé diànnǎo.When the plane took off, he turned off his cell phone and computer.
  • 他 太太 提出 离婚 ,他 很 惊讶 。Tā tàitai tíchū líhūn shí, tā hěn jīngyà.He was very surprised when his wife asked for a divorce.
  • 他 去世 ,他 的 孩子 都 不 在 身边 。Tā qùshì shí, tā de háizi dōu bù zài shēnbiān.His children weren't with him when he passed away.
  • 我们 公司 成立 只有 三 个 人 。Wǒmen gōngsī chénglì shí zhǐyǒu sān gè rén.There were only three people when this company was founded.
  • 跟 别人 说话 不要 玩 手机 。Gēn biérén shuōhuà shí bùyào wán shǒujī.Don't play with your cell phone when you're talking with other people.

There are also two great examples of this pattern in the poem below:

一会儿看我

一会儿看云

你看我时很远

你看云时很近

See also

Sources and further reading

Books