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Approximations with "chabuduo"

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差不多 (chàbuduō), translated literally, means "the difference is not much." In practice it means something like "more or less," and is useful for expressing rough approximations.

差不多 (chàbuduō) as a Predicate

As a predicate, 差不多 can be used pretty much all by itself to complete a sentence after you tell us what subject we're talking about. When several things are 差不多 (chàbuduō), it means they are "more or less the same." So actually 差不多 (chàbuduō) is often understood to mean 差不多一样 (chàbuduō yīyàng), but you don't say the 一样 (yīyàng) part. You just say 差不多 (chàbuduō).

Simple Subject

Let's first assume that the subject is an easily understood group of people or things.

Structure

Subj. + 差不多

You might also add a (dōu) in before 差不多 (chàbuduō) if there are more than two things being compared.

Examples

  • 这 几 个 地方 都 差不多Zhè jǐ gè dìfang dōu chàbuduō.These places are all pretty much the same.
  • 这 两 个 词 的 意思 差不多Zhè liǎng gè cí de yìsi chàbuduō.The meanings of these two words are pretty much the same.
  • 我们 的 想法 差不多Wǒmen de xiǎngfǎ chàbuduō.Our ways of thinking are pretty much the same.
  • 那 两 家 餐厅 的 菜 差不多Nà liǎng jiā cāntīng de cài chàbuduō.Those two restaurants' dishes are almost the same.
  • 你们 的 中文 水平 差不多Nǐmen de Zhōngwén shuǐpíng chàbuduō.Your Chinese levels are almost the same.

Several Subjects

Let's add in a few different subjects now, using the Chinese word for "and."

Structure

Another often used structure is:

A + 跟 / 和 + B + 差不多

Examples

  • 上海 纽约 差不多Shànghǎi Niǔyuē chàbuduō.Shanghai and New York are basically the same.
  • Starbucks Costa 差不多 Starbucks Costa chàbuduō.Starbucks and Costa are almost the same.
  • 这里 的 天气 台湾 的 天气 差不多 Zhèlǐ de tiānqì gēn Táiwān de tiānqì chàbuduō.The weather here is pretty much like Taiwan's.
  • 你的 工作 我的 工作 差不多 Nǐ de gōngzuò gēn wǒ de gōngzuò chàbuduō.Your job and my job are almost the same.
  • 你的 新 手机 我的 旧 手机 差不多Nǐ de xīn shǒujī gēn wǒ de jiù shǒujī chàbuduō.Your new cell phone is pretty much like my old cell phone.

差不多 (chàbuduō) as an Adverb

When using 差不多 (chàbuduō) as an adverb, place it before the adjective or verb.

Structure

差不多 + Adj. / Verb

Examples

  • 这 两 个 孩子 差不多 大。Zhè liǎng gè háizi chàbuduō dà.These two children are more or less the same age.
  • 我哥哥 差不多 高。gēn wǒ gēge chàbuduō gāo.My older brother and I are more or less the same height.
  • 差不多 到 公园 门口 了。chàbuduō dào gōngyuán ménkǒu le.I'm almost at the entrance of the park.
  • 电影 差不多 要 开始 了。Diànyǐng chàbuduō yào kāishǐ le.The movie is almost about to start.
  • 今天 的 工作 差不多 做 完 了。Jīntiān de gōngzuò chàbuduō zuò wán le.Today's work is almost done.

差不多 (chàbuduō) with a Quantity or Time Phrase

After 差不多 (chàbuduō) you can also add a phrase that expresses quantity or time. This makes it clear that you're giving a rough estimate.

Structure

差不多 + [Quantity Phrase] / [Time Phrase]

Examples

  • 你 儿子 差不多 五 岁 了 吧?Nǐ érzi chàbuduō wǔ suì le ba?Your son should be about 5 years old, right?
  • 他 住 在 上海 差不多 三 个 月 了。Tā zhù zài Shànghǎi chàbuduō sān gè yuè le.He has lived in Shanghai for about three months.
  • 我 在 这 家 公司 工作 了 差不多 十 年 了。Wǒ zài zhè jiā gōngsī gōngzuò le chàbuduō shí nián le.I've worked for this company for almost ten years.
  • 我 父母 结婚 差不多 二十 年 了。Wǒ fùmǔ jiéhūn chàbuduō èrshí nián le.My parents have been married for about twenty years.
  • 差不多 两 个 星期 以前,我 在 北京 见 过 他。Chàbuduō liǎng gè xīngqí yǐqián, wǒ zài Běijīng jiàn guo tā.About two weeks ago I met with him in Beijing.

See also

Sources and further reading

Books

Dictionaries