Expressing "in the end" with "daodi"
到底 (dàodǐ) literally means "to the bottom," and often is used where the speaker wants to get to the bottom of a problem or issue, emphasizing or questioning what the real reason for something is.
到底 as 毕竟 or "In the End"
It is often used like 毕竟, to mean "after all" or "in the end." When used in this way, 到底 is used to emphasize a reason or characteristic the speaker considers to be most important.
到底 ⋯⋯ ，Reason / Characteristic
- 到底 是 个 大 老板，出手 就是 大方 。 Look how generous he is with money. He is a high-level boss, after all....
- 到底 是 个 高手，这么 快 就 把 问题 解决 了！"He is a master, after all. Look how quickly he solved the problem.
- 到底 还 是 孩子，有些 事情 他 不 懂 是 很 正常 的。"He is a kid, after all. It's normal for him to not understand some things.
到底 as 究竟 or "On Earth"
到底 can be used to mean "on earth" (as in "what on earth?!") where it is used to add emphasis or urgency to a question. In this sense, 到底 is similar to 究竟.
到底 + Question Word
到底 + Verb ＋ 不 / 没 ＋ Verb
- 你 到底 怎么 了？What on earth is up with you?
- 到底 怎么 走？How on earth do we get there?
- 快 说 啊！你 男友 到底 是 谁？Speak up! Who on earth is your boyfriend?
- 你 到底 说 不 说？Are you going to tell me or not?
- 你 到底 喜 不 喜欢 我？Do you like me or not?
- 他们 到底 离 没 离婚？Did they get divorced or not?
Note that 到底 can't appear in an answer to a question. Also, 吗 can't appear in a question formed with 到底 but 没有 can be used instead:
- 你 到底 吃 了 吗 ？
- 你 到底 吃 了 没有 ？Have you eaten or not?
到底 as 终于 or "Finally"
到底 can be used to mean "finally." In this sense, 到底 is similar to 终于.
到底 ＋ Verb ＋ 了
- 天气 到底 暖和 了。The weather is finally warm.
- 他 到底 想 明白 了。He finally understood.
- 经过 两 年 多 的 努力，我们 的 项目 到底 成功 了。After working on it for over two years, our project finally succeeded.
Sources and further reading
- HSK Standard Course 4下 (pp. 78, 132) Anything Goes (无所不谈) →buy
- Chinese Grammar - Broken down into 100 items - Basic and Intermediate Levels (汉语语法百项讲练 - 初中级) (pp. 127-33) Anything Goes (无所不谈) →buy
- Boya Chinese Lower Intermediate 2 (博雅汉语准中级加速篇) (pp. 183-5) Anything Goes (无所不谈) →buy