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Which Time?

Clarifying Specific Occurances

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It is sometimes useful to talk about which time something happened. For example, you may need to say, "The second time I went, there was nobody there."

We specify particular times in Mandarin Chinese with 次 (cì). The sentence structure is:

SUBJECT – SPECIFIER – NUMBER – 次 (cì) – VERB – (SECONDARY CLAUSE)

Here is an example:

我第二次去,沒有人在。
我第二次去,没有人在。
Wǒ dì èr cì qù, méiyǒu rén zài.
The second time I went, there was nobody there.

To emphasize the time expression, it may be placed before the subject, as in this example:

第二次我去,沒有人在。
第二次我去,没有人在。
Dì èr cì wǒ qù, méiyǒu rén zài.
It was the second time I went that nobody was there.

Specifier

The specifier that is used in this sentence structure can be words such as:

  • 每 – měi – each; every
  • 上 – shàng – previous
  • 下 – xià – next
  • 這 / 这 – zhè – this
  • 那 – nà – that

Number

The number is sometimes optional, especially when the specifier is either 上 (shàng – previous) or 下 (xià – next), as in this example:

我每(一)次去,大家都很忙。
我每(一)次去,大家都很忙。
Wǒ měi (yī) cì qù, dàjiā dōu hěn máng.
Every time I go, everyone is busy.

Examples

Here are some more examples:

他第一次問你,你說甚麼?
他第一次问你,你说甚么?
Tā dì yī cì wèn nǐ, nǐ shuō shénme?
The first time he asked you, what did you say?

你上次去,買甚麼東西?
你上次去,买甚么东西?
Nǐ shàng cì qù, mǎi shén me dōngxī?
The last time you went, what did you buy?
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