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Answers to Been There, Done That: Using “曾经(céngjīng )” and “已经(yǐjīng)

Feb. 2, 2015

Answer: A

In the Chinese language, both “曾经(céngjīng)” and “已经(yǐjīng)” can be used to describe a habit, behavior, or action that happened in the past and has already stopped. Both of them can also be used before verbs. However, their meanings are not quite the same.

Firstly, “曾经(céngjīng)” is often be used in conjunction with “过(guò),” which means “ever” or “once.” Together, they indicate that a person has had a given experience at least once.

The structure is: Subject + “曾经(céngjīng)” + Verb + “过(guò)” + …

Examples:

Wǒ céngjīng dāng guò hànyǔ lǎoshī.
我    曾经       当     过    汉语   老师。
I have worked as a Chinese teacher.

Wáng Lì: Tīngshuō nǐ yǒu hěnduō Zhōng’guó péngyou.
王 丽:     听说      你 有    很多        中国         朋友。
Wang Li: I heard that you have many Chinese friends.

Mike: Shìde, wǒ céngjīng qù guò Zhōng’guó, Zài nàlǐ jiāo le hěnduō péngyou.
Mike:是的, 我 曾经       去 过    中国,        在 那里 交 了   很多      朋友。
Mike: Yes, I have been to China and I made a lot of friends there.

Now, let’s take a look at “已经(yǐjīng).” It is often used along with “了(le),” meaning “already.” It refers to something that has happened in the past and is completed, but the main emphasis is on the result.

The structure is: Subject + “已经(yǐjīng)” + Verb + … + 了(le)

Examples:

Zhāng Wěi: Qǐngwèn nǐ shì Jack de nǚ péngyou ma?
张       伟:  请问       你 是 Jack  的 女   朋友       吗?
Zhang Wei: Excuse me, are you Jack’s girl friend?

Judy: Wǒ shì tāde qī zi. Wǒmen yǐjīng jiéhūn le.
Judy:我 是 他的 妻 子。我们    已经  结婚   了。
Judy: I’m his wife. We have already gotten married.

Lucy: Qǐngwèn Lǐ Hóng zài jiā ma?
Lucy:请问      李 红     在  家 吗?
Lucy: Excuse me, is Li Hong in?

Lǐ Míng: Bú zài. Tā yǐjīng qù shàngbān le.
李 明:  不 在。她 已经  去   上班        了。
Li Ming: No, she isn’t. She has already gone to work.

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