Verb Tenses

April 15, 2012, 11:51 AM posted in Grammar Questions

Can someone please explain how the verbs work?

For example: I go, I went, I will go, I would go.

I have tried researching this but I find it difficult to comprehend.

Thank you in advance

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April 16, 2012, 12:52 AM

First of all, you must not analyse Chinese from a European language perspective otherwise you will end up speaking Engnese or whatever.  Chinese is mainly an aspect language which means that markers are used to show completion.  Also, Chinese is a language that is heavily reliant on context (which is relatively typical of an aspect language).

But if you just want to get a grasp of these ideas from a European language aspect, try looking at "Modern Mandarin Chinese Grammar (a practical guide) by Claudia Ross and Jing-heng Sheng ma".

For your examples, it helps to put them in context, so example:

I go to the gym on Tuesdays - 我每周二都去健身房

I went to the gym on Tuesday - 我周二去了健身房

I will go to the gym on Tuesday - 我周二要去健身房

I would go to the gym on Tuesday, but I'm busy - 我周二想去健身房,可是我很忙

But as I said, try not to look at Chinese in terms of tenses if you can.  I can understand that when you begin it's natural to do this, but hopefully as you get more familiar with Chinese, you'll begin to forget about "tense".

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I thoroughly recommend the book that darkstar mentions above. It is still my bible of chinese grammar.

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Cool answer. Kind off topic here because the topic is tenses, but I'm wondering about 周二. I think that means the second cyclic day of the week or recurring Tuesday. I was [only] taught to say Tuesday by using 星期二 which I think is just the calendar way of referring to it.

In the past tense you are representing, do you think I could get away with 我星期二去了健身房 instead? If I did, would that change the meaning?

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周二,星期二,礼拜二都可以 and no the meaning would be the same