Toll Free - U.S.& Canada:  1-800-791-9386   Hong Kong:  800-930-623   Australia:  1-800-779-835
Free online Chinese learning support
  • Follow us on Facebook!
  • Watch Our YouTube Videos!
  • Follow us on Twitter!
  • Follow us on WeChat!
    Follow Us in WeChat by Scanning!
    Follow Us in "WeChat"
    by Scanning
  • Follow us on LinkedIn
  • Explore Our Instagram Videos & Photos!
United Kingdom:  0-800-086-8969   Germany:  0-800-180-0341   Singapore:  800-130-1652
France:  0-805-080-689   Spain:  900-838-906    

How to use 以前 (yǐqián) and 从前 (cónɡqián) in Chinese?

May. 15, 2013

The correct answer is A.

Nǐ zhǔnbèi shénme shíhou jiéhūn?

Tina:你    准备     什么     时候    结婚?

When are you going to get married?

Sānshí suì yǐqián kěndìng jiéhūn.

Kate:三十     岁  以前     肯定      结婚。

I plan to get married before I’m 30 years old.

Explanation:

This test aims to bring attention to the differences between 以前 (yǐqián) and 从前 (cónɡqián). The differences are as follows:

1. 从前 (cónɡqián) always refers to a time far in the past, while 以前 (yǐqián) is closer to the present.

Examples:

Cóngqián, yǒu yíge shīrén jiào Lǐ Bái.

从前,       有   一个   诗人   叫  李 白。

Once, there was a poet named Li Bai.

Yǐqián, wǒ zhùzài zhōngguó.

以前,  我  住在     中国。

Previously, I lived in China.

2. 以前 (yǐqián) can be used after time words while 从前 (cónɡqián) cannot.

Examples:

Tiānliàng yǐqián, wǒ bìxū qǐchuáng.

天亮         以前,我  必须    起床。

Before dawn, I must get up.

Tā shísuì yǐqián zhù zài Běijīng.

他  十岁    以前   住   在   北京。

Before he was ten years old, he lived in Beijing.

In the earlier conversation between Tina and Kate, 三十岁 (sānshísuì) is considered to be a time phrase, so this makes 以前 (yǐqián) the correct choice.

3. 以前 (yǐqián) refers generally to a time before now, and it can be placed at the beginning or the middle of a sentence.

Examples:

Yǐqián, wǒ zài xiǎoxué jiāoshū.

以前,  我 在   小学       教书。

Previously, I taught at a primary school.

Wǒ yǐqián zài xiǎoxué jiāoshū.

我   以前   在   小学      教书。

I used to teach at primary school.

4.从前 (cónɡqián) is always used at the very beginning of a story. It is similar to the English phrase “a long time ago,” or “once upon a time.”

Example:

Cóngqián, sēnlín lǐ zhùzhe yíwèi lièrén.

从前,        森林 里  住着    一位   猎人。

A long time ago, there lived a hunter in the forest.

<<Back to “Chinese test”

HSK Test

General Chinese (Beginner Level)

General Chinese (Intermediate Level)

Got questions? Take a free 1-to-1 lesson with one of our professional teachers by signing up below:
Name: 
E-mail: 
Country/Region: 
-select-

search no result

Tel: 
By clicking Submit, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.
Your email address and phone number
will be kept STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL.
Submit

Write a comment

Your Name: 
Your Email:  Your email address will not be published.
Comments: 
Verification Code:  Verification Code Unclear? Try another one
By clicking Submit, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.
Email This Article
Recipients' email addresses:
(separate recipients with comma)
Your name:
Your e-mail address (optional):
Your message (optional):
Verification Code:
By clicking Send, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.


Get 11 FREE Mandarin E-books
Sign up for a free trial now!
Get more information about our Chinese lessons through live chat
Get a FREE live 1-to-1 lesson and FREE e-books. Complete the form below:
Name:
E-mail:
Country/Region:
-select-

search no result

Tel:
By clicking Submit, you agree to our
Terms of Service
and Privacy Policy.
Your email address and phone number
will be kept STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL.