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Expressing "until" with "dao"

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Chinese-grammar-wiki-dao.jpg

One kind of complement in Chinese involves putting 到 (dào) after the verb, followed by a time or other event. This 到 works much like the English word "until."

Basic Pattern

Structure

Verb (+ 一直) + 到 + Time / Event

You will sometimes see 一直 (yīzhí) proceeding 到, which serves the purpose of the emphasis on the "ongoing duration."

Note that the verbs are mostly single-syllable.

Examples

  • 你们 要 玩 几 点 ?Nǐmen yào wán dào jǐ diǎn?When will you be done playing?
  • 我们 在 酒吧 一直 半夜 。Wǒmen zài jiǔbā yīzhí liáo dào bànyè.We were chatting in the bar until midnight.
  • 你 弟弟 要 在 我们 家 住 什么 时候 ?Nǐ dìdi yào zài wǒmen jiā zhù dào shénme shíhou?Your younger brother is going to stay in our house until when?
  • 昨天 的 会 一直 晚上 九点 。Zuótiān de huì yīzhí kāi dào wǎnshang jiǔ diǎn.Yesterday's meeting lasted until 9 pm.
  • 我 邻居 今天 吵架 了 ,一直 警察 过来 。Wǒ línjū jīntiān chǎojià le, yīzhí chǎo dào jǐngchá guòlái.My neighbors had a fight today, which lasted until the police came.
  • 我们 晚上 去 吃火锅 了 ,一直 火锅店 关门 。Wǒmen wǎnshang qù chī huǒguō le, yīzhí chī dào huǒguō diàn guānmén.We went to eat hotpot tonight, and we didn't finish until the place was closed.
  • 他 昨天 一天 都 在 打游戏 ,一直 他 妈妈 回家 。Tā zuótiān yī tiān dōu zài dǎ yóuxì, yīzhídào tā māma huí jiā.He was playing computer games all day yesterday. He didn't stop until his mother came home.

Pattern with Repeating Verb

Structure

If there is a verb phrase proceeding 到, use this structure:

[Verb Phrase] (+ 一直) + Verb + 到 + Time / Event

Note that in this pattern, the verb is going to repeat.

Examples

  • 你 知 不 知道 我们 等 你 半夜 ?Nǐ zhī bu zhīdào wǒmen děng nǐ děng dào bànyè?Do you know we waited for you until midnight?
  • 我 女儿 昨天 晚上 写作业 十二 点 半 。Wǒ nǚ'ér zuótiān wǎnshang xiě zuòyè xiě dào shí'èr diǎn bàn.My daughter didn't finish her homework until 12:30 last night.
  • 她 给 男朋友 打电话 手机 没 电 。Tā gěi nánpéngyou dǎ diànhuàdào shǒujī méi diàn.She called her boyfriend and they kept talking until her phone was out of battery.

See also

Sources and further reading

Books