Chinese grammar ninjas only

還有 一個 小時 火車 才 開。 我們 一定

A- 來得及 B- 來不及 C- 沒來及

The correct answer is A.

I assumed that the speaker needs to get to a third location by train, but he won’t get there on time because the train won’t leave for another hour. So, B.

老師 says the meaning is obviously that the speaker is conerned with not missing the bus, so A is correct.

I don’t see why this is obvious. Help?

Hi beautifulspam, and welcome to Forumosa! :slight_smile:

[quote=“beautifulspam”]I assumed that the speaker needs to get to a third location by train, but he won’t get there on time because the train won’t leave for another hour. So, B.

老師 says the meaning is obviously that the speaker is conerned with not missing the bus, so A is correct.[/quote]

I agree, it’s A. The sentence is concerned with when the train leaves, not when it arrives at the next destination, so catching it is most relevant. And the 1 hour is not a delay, it’s just the departure time – so there’s no information about (and therefore no concern about) arriving at your destination late. In other words, it just says “the train doesn’t depart for another hour, so we can still make it (to the train) in time.” So there’s no reason to jump to any conclusion about arrival at a second destination; and the laideji / laibuji distinction thus refers to making the train.

Thanks Dragonbones. I wonder if I would have even gotten that one in english :unamused: . I’ve been made tardy so often by trains that run every hour, or only twice a day, or late, that not catching the train didn’t occur to me.

I would add that the choice between A and B is made obvious by the 還 and 才, which very roughly could be translated as “still” and “only then”, inferring that the speaker views 1 hour as plenty of time to catch the train, so they can still make it. If the above two were replaced with 只 and 就, then the inferance would be reversed, and the answer would switch to B.

FA

First, my local GF says changing to 只 is not colloquial.

Note also that the changes you mention, as shown here:
[color=red]只[/color]有 一個 小時 火車[color=red]就[/color] 開。 我們 一定…
do make the answer B, but it’s the change from 才 to 就 which causes this.
It would be better if you had suggested
[color=blue]再[/color] 一個 小時 火車 就 開。 我們 一定…

Looks like this is more subtle than I first assumed.

thanks again both of you. I am really more comfortable with a grammar-based explanation than one that relies on context.

time to go bei shu : )

[quote=“beautifulspam”]還有 一個 小時 火車 才 開。 我們 一定
A- 來得及 B- 來不及 C- 沒來及
[snip]
老師 says the meaning is obviously that the speaker is conerned with not missing the bus, so A is correct.

I don’t see why this is obvious. Help?[/quote]

Actually, beautifulspasm, your initial reading is not strictly wrong – what is at issue in the choice between A and B is context rather than grammar.

The context your teacher infers is the one that would likely come to most readers’ minds (including mine) first, and so is more “obvious” as your teacher says. Given this, I suppose it would be the correct answer in a “best answer” multiple choice test.

Nevertheless, this sentence can also be read in the less likely, but still possible [and still grammatical] context that you originally inferred - with the speaker worried about getting to an appointment at the final destination on time rather than worried about getting to the train itself on time.

i.e. 還有 一個 小時 [下一班]火車 才 開。 我們 一定 (B) 來不及[於預定時間內抵達目的地]。

So don’t be discouraged: you weren’t wrong – you just missed (part of ) the forest for (one of the less obvious) trees. :wink:

I don’t believe this is context driven; the beginning of the sentence, [color=red]還[/color]有 一個 小時 火車 [color=red]才[/color] 開 means ‘we still have an hour before the train leaves’ or ‘the train doesn’t leave for another hour’, which implies (regardless of context, and in both languages) that time is adequate, so A is the only answer.

If the situation is B, then we would never write, in English, “We [color=red]still [/color]have an hour before the train leaves, so we’ll never make it.” We would instead write "“We [color=red]only[/color] have an hour before the train leaves, so we’ll never make it.” If B is true, the sentence in Chinese would have to be similarly altered, as I previously mentioned: [color=blue]再[/color] 一個 小時 火車 [color=blue]就[/color] 開。 我們 一定…

Chinese may be a very ambiguous language involving a lot of context-based interpretation, but I don’t believe this is one of those situations. I’ve presented this sentence to a number of native speakers to verify my understanding of it. I’d be very surprised if you get any native speakers to agree the answer is B.

I don’t believe this is context driven; the beginning of the sentence, [color=red]還[/color]有 一個 小時 火車 [color=red]才[/color] 開 means ‘we still have an hour before the train leaves’ or ‘the train doesn’t leave for another hour’, which implies (regardless of context, and in both languages) that time is adequate, so A is the only answer.

If the situation is B, then we would never write, in English, “We [color=red]still [/color]have an hour before the train leaves, so we’ll never make it.” We would instead write "“We [color=red]only[/color] have an hour before the train leaves, so we’ll never make it.” If B is true, the sentence in Chinese would have to be similarly altered, as I previously mentioned: [color=blue]再[/color] 一個 小時 火車 [color=blue]就[/color] 開。 我們 一定…

Chinese may be a very ambiguous language involving a lot of context-based interpretation, but I don’t believe this is one of those situations. I’ve presented this sentence to a number of native speakers to verify my understanding of it. I’d be very surprised if you get any native speakers to agree the answer is B.[/quote]

DB, You haven’t read my argument closely enough. I started off by GRANTING that in the context you are inferring (and the one that I and no doubt most native speakers, as you say, would think of as being more obvious) answer “A” is correct and “B” is incorrect. I’m simply pointing out that it is possible to posit another context (as I do in the previous post), in which B is not only correct but grammatical). In such a posited context, the initial phrase 還有 一個 小時 火車才開 could be translated as, “It’ll be another hour before the train leaves…” or “There’s still an hour left before the train leaves.” (These are not very elegant phrasings, but then neither is the original Chinese – they are both very colloquial.)

(And this has nothing to do with Chinese being any more ambiguous or context-based than any other language – no such thing is at issue here.)

Oh, I see now :smiley: . But I still think you’d have to specify 來不及 to our destination before such a reading becomes plausible. I guess we’re not in disagreement then.

No, erh, yes, we’re not in disagreement. :sunglasses: