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What`s the Difference Between“以前yiqian” and “从前 congqian” in Chinese?

Difference between 从前 and  以前 - Dao Mandarin Learn  Chinese

Let`s learn what`s the difference between“以前yiqian” and “”从前 congqian” in Chinese?

In Mandarin Chinese, there are often multiple ways to express the concept of "before" or "in the past." Two commonly used phrases are "以前 (yǐqián)" and "从前 (cóngqián)." While they may seem interchangeable at first glance, they each carry their own subtle nuances and usage contexts. In this blog post, we will delve into the meanings and usages of “以前” and “从前” to better understand how they are used in Mandarin Chinese.

The phrase “以前yǐqián” is commonly used to refer to a time before the present moment. It can be translated as "before,""previously," or "in the past." “从前cóngqián" also refers to a time in the past, but it often carries a sense of storytelling or reminiscing. Here are some key points about their usages.


Time Reference:“以前” typically refers to a relatively recent past, often within one's lifetime or recent memory.

Example:我以前在上海工作过。(wǒ yǐqián zài Shànghǎi gōngzuò guò.) - I used to work in Shanghai before.

General Past Events:“以前” can be used to describe general past events or situations without specifying a particular time frame.

Example:以前这里是一片农田。(yǐqián zhèlǐ shì yīpiàn nóngtián.) - This used to be farmland before.

Continuation to the Present:“以前” can also imply a connection or continuity from the past to the present.

Example:以前我住在北京,现在在上海。(Yǐqián wǒ zhù zài Běijīng, xiànzài zài Shànghǎi.) - I used to live in Beijing, but now I'm in Shanghai.

2.从前 (cóngqián)

Narrative or Storytelling:“从前cóngqián” is frequently used to introduce a narrative or story from the past, similar to the English phrase "once upon a time."

Example:从前有一个勇敢的小女孩。(Cóngqián yǒu yīgè yǒnggǎn de xiǎo nǚhái.)- Once upon a time, there was a brave little girl.


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