How do you use 时候 and 时间?

The correct answer is


Wǒ míngtiān qù Běijīng.
William:我    明天      去   北京。

I am going to Beijing tomorrow.
Nǐ yào qù duō cháng shíjiān?
Tina:你 要   去   多    长       时间?

How long will you be gone?


This test aims to check your knowledge about how to use the time expressions 时候 (shíhou) and 时间 (shíjiān).

1. 时候 (shíhou)
a. refers to a specific time when something else is happening.

Tā huílai de shíhou, wǒ zhèngzài kàn diànshì.
他   回来  的   时候 ,   我     正在     看     电视。

I was watching TV when he came back.

(Do you enjoy TV programs? You can


b. Refers to a period of time

Xiàtiān de shíhou, zhèr hěn piàoliang.
夏天     的    时候,这儿 很       漂亮。

It’s very beautiful here in summer.

c. When asking “什么时候 (shénme shíhou),” the meaning is asking about a specific time.

Nǐ shénme shíhou qù Shànghǎi?
A:你     什么    时候  去     上海?

When will you leave for Shanghai?
Míngtiān zǎoshang bā diǎn.
B:明天           早上      八   点。

8 am tomorrow morning.
(Being on time is a good business practice. Learn more about business etiquette here.)
As you can see from the examples, 时候 (shíhou) is normally very similar to the English words “when” or “while.” The pattern is“……的时候 (…de shíhou).”

2. 时间 (shíjiān)
a. Refers to a length of time, duration.

Hǎo cháng shíjiān bú jiàn, nǐ shòu le.
1).   好      长    时间     不  见,你 瘦   了。

Long time no see. You’ve gotten thinner.
Wǒ xiàwǔ méiyǒu shíjiān chīfàn.
2). 我    下午    没有     时间    吃饭。

I have no time to eat this afternoon.
(Learn the right way to express “busy” in Chinese.)

b. refers to the clock time.

Xiànzài de shíjiān shì shí’èr diǎn.
现在     的  时间     是   十二  点。

It is 12 o’clock now.

In William and Tina’s conversation, Tina asked her husband how long he will be in Bejing, which is a question about length of the time, or duration. In this situation, 时间 (shíjiān) is the correct answer. The last example shows another way to use 时间 (shíjiān), where it only refers to the concept of time.
How do you use 时间 (shíjiān) and 时候 (shíhou) in Chinese? Hopefully you now have the answer.
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Take more tests to distinguish Chinese words:

也(yě) VS.  还(hái)
意思(yìsi) VS. 有意思(yǒu yìsi)
一点儿 (yìdiǎnr) VS . 有点儿 (yǒudiǎnr)
General Chinese (Beginner Level)
General Chinese (Intermediate Level)

2 thoughts on “How do you use 时候 and 时间?”

  1. Any husband who tells his wife he is going to be out of town tomorrow and hasn’t already told her for how long, is asking for trouble.

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