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Answer to Avoiding Exact Answers with “左右(zuǒyòu)” and “大概(dàgài)”

Apr. 28, 2015

Answer: A

“左右(zuǒyòu)” and “大概(dàgài)” both mean “about, nearly or approximately.” Approximate numbers are indicated by putting “左右(zuǒyòu)” or “大概(dàgài)” in front of or after a numeral, such as “六点左右(liùdiǎn zuǒyòu) at about 6 o’clock,” “十二个人左右(shíèrgèrén zuǒyòu) about 12 people,” “大概三个月(dàgài sāngèyuè) nearly 3 months” and “大概六年(dàgài liùnián) about 6 years.” As we can see from the examples above, “左右(zuǒyòu)” usually follows numerals while “大概(dàgài)” goes before numerals.

Examples:

Wǒ měitiān zǎoshang bādiǎn zuǒyòu dào gōngsī.
我      每天      早上       八点       左右      到  公司。
I arrive at the company at about 8 o’clock every morning.

Wáng Qīng dàgài xuéle sānniánde zhōngwén.
王          清     大概   学了    三年的       中文。
Wang Qing has been learning Chinese for about 3 years.

Zhāng Líng: Lín Lín, nǐ shénme shíhou dào?
张        玲: 林 琳, 你   什么   时候     到?
Zhang Ling: Lin Lin, when will you arrive?

Lín Lín: Dàgài sāndiǎn.
林 琳:  大概     三点。
Lin Lin: About 3 o’clock.

Other similar words include “大约(dàyuē),” “差不多(chàbùduō),” and “上下(shàngxià).” Both “大约(dàyuē)” and “差不多(chàbùduō)” are used in the same way as “大概(dàgài).” Meanwhile, “上下(shàngxià),” like “左右(zuǒyòu),” usually follows a numeral. Examples of these in use include, “大约四个月(dàyuē sìgèyuè) about 4 months,” “差不多一年(chàbùduō yìnián) nearly a year,” and “五十岁上下(wǔshísuì shàngxià) about 50 years old.”

Examples:

Mǎ Qiáng: Lǐ  Xiǎng, nǐ háiyǒu duōshǎo qián?
马      强:   李   想, 你  还有     多少     钱?
Ma Qiang: Li Xiang, how much money do you still have?

Lǐ  Xiǎng: Dàyuē sìshíkuài.
李    想:   大约 四十块。
Li Xiang: About 40 yuan.

Hú Jié zuówǎn chàbùduō shíèrdiǎn cái huíjiā.
胡    杰   昨晚     差不多    十二点     才   回家。
Hu Jie returned home at about 12 o’clock last night.

Tā mèimei hěn niánqīng, kànqǐlái èrshísuì shàngxià.
他    妹妹    很    年轻,   看起来   二十岁  上下。
His sister is so young. She looks about 20 years old.

In our test, “左右(zuǒyòu)” should follow “三十岁(sānshísuì)” and “大概(dàgài)” goes in front of “三十岁(sānshísuì),” so the correct answer is A.

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