「來」字原來不簡單

「來」字原來不簡單

「來」is taught in book 2 of Beginning Reader in the Basic Chinese 500 course. It is a word that is easy for children to grasp and remember. You probably think you understand this simple character very well – it means “to come”, right?

Think again.

On one hand, it is a simple character and also a monosyllabic word. However, its many meanings go way beyond “to come”. That is the reason why it’s one of the most often used words. Here, let’s take a closer look at this character: first at where it bears the basic meaning of “from, or  to come”, then at where is does NOT bear such meanings.

When it means “FROM / to COME”

Here are a few examples

  • 來信 – incoming letter

  • 來人 – bearer; the person who came

  • 問題來了 – here crop up the problems

When it means more than “FROM / to COME”

Here are some more examples

  • 亂來 – making a mess of something

  • 連日來 / 一個月來 -the pattern here is [time + 來]. It means “recent times, or the time from recent past up to now

  • 十公斤來重 – weighs ABOUT 10 kg

  • 合不來 – do not get along well

  • 起不來 – cannot get up

  • 來得及 – will make it in time vs 來不及 – too late

    說不上來 “cannot recall now

  • 趕不起來 – cannot complete it in time

Further Usages

來 to mean something that has happened, that is in the past:
  • 他們打起 ( 架) 來了 – They started a fight.

  • 你說甚麼來?– What did you say just now?

來 to denote consequential moves:
  • 想來好笑 – It is funny when I come to think of it (first > you think, then > you find it funny)

  • 一來… 二來… 三來… – Firstly, … Secondly, … Thirdly,…

There are also cases when來 is used as a preposition, such as:
  • 來客 a guest
  • 來客 a visitor
  • 來臨 the arrival (of)
  • 來源 the source
  • 後來 afterwards, later

In the above examples, while the other character alone is enough to express the meaning, in modern Chinese, however, it is usually used together with 來, forming a bi-syllabic word.

Let's practice writing

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Sagebooks Hongkong promotes independent reading and life-long learning by nurturing the child’s confidence, autonomy and self-teaching abilities. Since 2006. Find out more About Us.

© 2020 Sagebooks Hongkong. All rights reserved.

Sagebooks Hongkong promotes independent reading and life-long learning by nurturing the child’s confidence, autonomy and self-teaching abilities. Since 2006. Find out more About Us.

© 2020 Sagebooks Hongkong. All rights reserved.

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