Answer to Running Late: Using “都(dōu)” and “才(cái)”

Correct Answer: A
In the Chinese language, both “都(dōu)” and “才(cái)” can be used as adverbs of degree to indicate that something happened later than expected. In English, this might be expressed by saying “as late as” or “not until.” However, the usages of these two words are different from each other.
1. “都(dōu)”
The sentence structure is: “都(dōu)” + time words + 了(le), ….” This implies that the time after “都(dōu)” is not considered early to the speaker. In English, you could say: “It is already ….”


Māma: Tom, dōu jiǔdiǎn le, nǐ zěnme hái bù qǐchuáng?
妈妈: Tom,都   九点   了,你 怎么    还 不   起床?
Mother: Tom, it is already nine o’clock. Why haven’t you woken up?

Tom: Māma, wǒ xiǎng zài shuì yíhuìer.
Tom:妈妈,我   想     再   睡  一会儿。
Tom: Mum, I want to sleep a little longer.

Dōu xià dàxuě le, nǐ háishì búyào chūmén le.
都    下   大雪 了,你 还是   不要     出门   了。
It is already snowing heavily. You’d better not go out.

2. “才(cái)”

The sentence structure is: “Subject + (time) + 才(cái)” + …” This implies that someone does not do something until a certain time. In English, you could say that: “someone doesn’t …until….”
Rose: Diànyǐng liùdiǎn jiù kāishǐ le, nǐ zěnme cái lái?
Rose:电影      六点    就 开始 了, 你 怎么    才 来?
Rose: The film already started at six o’clock. Why are you just now coming?

Wáng Wěi: Duìbùqǐ, wǒ jīntiān jiābān.
王    伟:  对不起,我  今天  加班。
Wang Wei: I’m sorry. I worked over time today.

July sānshíwǔ suì cái jiēhūn.
July 三十五 岁 才 结婚。
July didn’t get married until she was 35 years old.

In our test, Bai Yun considers eight o’clock to be late and David hasn’t come back yet. For David, he couldn’t get off work until now. This means the correct answer is A.

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