Expressing "before" in general with "yiqian"
Using "before" in Chinese is very simple. To talk about things in the past "in general", you can use the word 以前 (yǐqián). You can use this structure to talk about actions that happened at some unspecified time in the past.
以前 before the Subject
One way to use 以前 (yǐqián) is to start the sentence with it. This is like starting off a sentence in English with "before..." or "in the past...."
以前，+ Subject + Verb + Object
- 以前 我 不 会 说 中文 。 Before, I could not speak Chinese.
- 以前 我 住 在 上海 。 Before, I lived in Shanghai.
- 以前 我 是 一 个 老师 。 Before, I was a teacher.
- 以前 我 不 喜欢 他 。 Before, I didn't like him.
- 以前 我 不 喜欢 电影 。 Before, I didn't like movies.
- 以前 我 没有 钱 。 Before, I didn't have any money.
- 以前 我 很 快乐 。 Before, I was very happy.
- 以前 我们 经常 聊天 。 Before, we often talked together.
- 以前 她 很 喜欢 笑 。 Before, she really liked laughing.
- 以前 我 很 爱 学习 。 Before, I really loved studying.
以前 after the Subject
For pretty much the exact same sentences as in the previous section, you can also move 以前 (yǐqián) to right after the subject, and it's also correct.
Subject + 以前 + Verb + Object
- 我 以前 不 会 说 中文。Before, I could not speak Chinese.
- 我 以前 住 在 上海。Before, I lived in Shanghai.
- 我 以前 是 一 个 老师。Before, I was a teacher.
- 我 以前不 喜欢 他。Before, I didn't like him.
- 我 以前 不 喜欢 电影。Before, I didn't like movies.
- 我 以前 没有 钱。Before, I didn't have any money.
- 我 以前 很 快乐。Before, I was very happy.
- 我们 以前 经常 聊天。Before, we often talked together.
- 她 以前 很 喜欢 笑。Before, she really liked laughing.
- 我 以前 很 爱 学习。Before, I really loved studying.
- In the future in general
- Before a specific time
- At the time when
- Before and after with "zhiqian" and "zhihou"