(#44) Past, Now, Future / 以前,现在,以后

There will be other ways to express ‘past’, ‘now’, and ‘future’, but for now I’m going through the basic version.

When you need to refer to something that happened in the general past, you can use 以前 yi3 qian2 to build your sentence.

我以前住在这里。 wo3 yi3 qian2 zhu4 zai4 zhe4 li3. In the past, I stayed here. (Or I used to stay here.)
我和他以前是朋友,现在不是了。wo3 he2 ta1 yi3 qian2 shi4 peng2 you3, xian4 zai4 bu4 shi4 le4 He and I were friends in the last, not now.

I sneakily put in 现在 in the last example, did you notice it?

现在 means ‘now’, and it can be now as in this general time frame, or right now.

我现在没有空。wo3 xian4 zai4 mei2 you3 kong4 I am not free now.
现在几点?xian4 zai4 ji3 dian3 What is the time now?
她现在在学校教书。ta1 xian4 zai4 zai4 xue2 xiao4 jiao1 shu1. She is currently a teacher in a school (literal translation: ‘she now at school teaching’ – but the meaning is to say she is currently a teacher.)

To refer to the future you use 以后.

以后不要这样了。yi3 hou4 bu4 yao4 zhe4 yang4 le4 Don’t be like this in the future.
这件事以后再说。zhe4 jian4 shi4 yi3 hou4 zai4 shuo1. Let’s talk about this at a later stage.

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