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Expressing "all the way until" with "zhidao"

直到 (zhídào) can only be used to describe a time frame that began in the past and continued until a point closer to the present. It is like the English phrase, "all the way until." It can be used in an affirmative or negative form, expressing that something has taken a while or is late. The word 才 (cái) often teams up with 直到, and serves to emphasize the lateness aspect.

Affirmative Form

In the positive form, which uses 才, it may be more natural in English to express as "not until... did" something happen.

Structure

直到 + Time / Event ,Subj. + 才 ⋯⋯

This subject can also be place before 直到.

Examples

  • 直到 十二 点 半 ,我 做 完 作业 。Zhídào shí'èr diǎn bàn, wǒ cái zuò wán zuòyè.It wasn't until twelve thirty in the morning that I finished homework.
  • 直到 半 个 月 以后 ,我 的 感冒 好 。Zhídào bàn gè yuè yǐhòu, wǒ de gǎnmào cái hǎo.It took me half a month to recover from the cold.
  • 直到 十八 岁 见到 亲生 父母 。zhídào shíbā suì cái jiàndào qīnshēng fùmǔ.It wasn't until she was eighteen that she met her biological parents.
  • 直到 大学 毕业 开始 独立 生活 。zhídào dàxué bìyè cái kāishǐ dúlì shēnghuó.It wasn't until I graduated from college that I started living independently.
  • 直到 去 了 北京 ,他 知道 一个人 在 大 城市 多 辛苦 。Zhídào qù le Běijīng, tā cái zhīdào yīgèrén zài dà chéngshì duō xīnkǔ.It wasn't until he went to Beijing that he understood how hard it is to be alone in a big city.

Negative Form

Structure

直到 + Time / Event ,Subj. + 都 + 不 / 没 ⋯⋯

Examples

  • 直到 他 死 ,我们 都 没 见 过 。Zhídào tā sǐ, wǒmen dōu méi jiàn guo.We didn't meet until he passed away.
  • 他们 是 同学 ,但是 直到 毕业 ,都 没 说 过 话 。Tāmen shì tóngxué, dànshì zhídào bìyè, dōu méi shuō guo huà.They are classmates. But they had never spoken until they graduated.
  • 直到 电影 结束 ,他 都 没 来 。Zhídào diànyǐng jiéshù, tā dōu méi lái.He didn't show up until the movie was over.
  • 直到 我 弟弟 上 大学 ,他 都 不 会 洗 衣服 。Zhídào wǒ dìdi shàng dàxué, tā dōu bù huì xǐ yīfu.My younger brother couldn't wash clothes until he went to college.
  • 我 认识 他 一年 多 了 ,直到 现在 ,我 都 不 知道 他 的 全名 。Wǒ rènshi tā yī nián duō le, zhídào xiànzài, wǒ dōu bù zhīdào tā de quánmíng.I've known him for over a year, but I still don't know his full name.

See also

Sources and further reading

Books