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Expressing "when" with "de shihou"

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In English, if we are reflecting on a past time, we often say, "when I was a child" or "when I was in school." In Chinese, this can also be expressed by using 的时候 (de shíhou).

Structure

To talk about events that happened at or during a particular time, 的时候 (de shíhou) is often used. This is simply attached to the word or phrase indicating the time:

(Subj.) + Verb / Adj. + 的 时候, ....

As time words can appear before or after the subject, you can also place the "Time + 的时候 (de shíhou)" after the subject:

Time Word + 的 时候, ....

Examples

  • 不 在 的时候,我 会 想 你。 bù zài de shíhou, wǒ huì xiǎng nǐ.When you are not here, I'll miss you.
  • 上 大学 的时候,有 很 多 朋友。 shàng dàxué de shíhou, yǒu hěn duō péngyou.When I was in college, I had a lot of friends.
  • 上课 的时候 不要 吃 东西。Shàngkè de shíhou bùyào chī dōngxi.Don't eat when you are in class.
  • 老板 工作 的时候 喜欢 喝 咖啡。Lǎobǎn gōngzuò de shíhou xǐhuan hē kāfēi.When the boss works, he likes to drink coffee.
  • 生气 的时候,请 你 不要 笑。shēngqì de shíhou, qǐng nǐ bùyào xiào.Please don't laugh when I'm angry.
  • 妈妈 不 在 家 的时候,我 自己 做饭。Māma bù zài jiā de shíhou, wǒ zìjǐ zuòfàn.When mom is not home, I cook for myself.
  • 开会 的时候 不要 聊天。Kāihuì de shíhou bùyào liáotiān.Don't chat when you are in a meeting.
  • 吃 东西 的时候 不要 说话。Chī dōngxi de shíhou bùyào shuōhuà.Don't talk when eating.
  • 开车 的时候 会 打 电话 吗?kāichē de shíhou huì dǎ diànhuà ma? Do you talk on the phone when you're driving?
  • 走路 的时候 不要 玩手机。 Zǒulù de shíhou bùyào wán shǒujī.Don't play with your phone while walking.

See also

Sources and further reading

Books