Common Chinese Time Adverbs

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Time adverbs, which help to indicate the exact timing of events, are a fundamental aspect of the Mandarin language. They are crucial for the accurate communication and understanding of temporal concepts by non-native speakers. In this post, a handful of the most common time adverbs in Mandarin will be discussed.

Present Time

  • 现在 (xiàn zài): now
  • 今天 (jīn tiān): today
  • 这会儿 (zhè huìr): right now, this moment
  • 现今(xiànjīn): present
  • 当前(dāngqián):current

Past Time

  • 昨天 (zuó tiān): yesterday
  • 刚刚 (gāng gāng) &刚才 (gāng cái): just a moment ago
  • 前天 (qián tiān): the day before yesterday
  • 上个月 (shàng gè yuè): last month
  • 去年 (qù nián): last year
  • 以前 (yǐ qián): before, in the past

Future Time

  • 明天 (míng tiān): tomorrow
  • 后天 (hòu tiān): the day after tomorrow
  • 下个月 (xià gè yuè): next month
  • 明年 (míng nián): next year
  • 将来 (jiāng lái): in the future


  • 每天 (měi tiān): every day
  • 有时 (yǒu shí): sometimes
  • 通常 (tōng cháng): usually, normally
  • 常常 (cháng cháng): often
  • 从不 (cóng bù): never
  • 总是 (zǒng shì): always


  • 一会儿 (yī huǐr): a while, a moment
  • 全天 (quán tiān): all day
  • 终日 (zhōng rì): all day long, the whole day
  • 一生 (yī shēng): all one’s life, lifetime
  • 一直 (yī zhí): continuously, straight

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  • 先 (xiān): first
  • 然后 (rán hòu): then
  • 最后 (zuì hòu): finally, at last
  • 以后 (yǐ hòu): after, later
  • 之前 (zhī qián): before

Specific Timing

  • 午夜 (wǔ yè): midnight
  • 清晨 (qīng chén): early morning
  • 中午 (zhōng wǔ): noon
  • 下午 (xià wǔ): afternoon
  • 晚上 (wǎn shàng): evening, night

By becoming familiar with these adverbs and expanding your vocabulary, you can effectively communicate time-related ideas in Chinese. Keep in mind that practice is crucial. Try to utilize these terms in sentences to aid in comprehension.

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