In Chinese, there are several useful words and phrases to express the meaning of “almost” or “nearly.” Mastering these nuanced terms can help you communicate more precisely in Chinese.
Words for “Almost” in Chinese
Here are some of the main words and expressions to know:
快 (kuài) – Means “almost” or “nearly.” Often used with verbs.
我快记不住那么多词了。 Wǒ kuài jì bú zhù nàme duō cí le. I almost can’t remember so many words.
火车快到站了。 Huǒchē kuài dào zhàn le. The train is almost at the station.
差点 (chàdiǎn) – Means “almost.” Indicates something nearly happened but didn’t.
我差点迟到了。 Wǒ chàdiǎn chídào le. I almost arrived late.
他差点就哭了。 Tā chàdiǎn jiù kū le. He almost cried.
险些 (xiǎnxiē) – Another word for “almost.” Implies a near miss.
我们险些迷路了。 Wǒmen xiǎnxiē mílù le. We almost got lost.
我险些被车撞到。 Wǒ xiǎnxiē bèi chē zhuàng dào. I was almost hit by a car.
差一点 (chà yì diǎn) – Means “just short of.” Used to convey being very close to something but not quite there.
他差一点就及格了。 Tā chà yì diǎn jiù jígé le.
He just missed passing the test.
我们差一点错过飞机。 Wǒmen chà yì diǎn cuòguò fēijī. We almost missed the flight.
How to Use “Almost” Words in Chinese Sentences
In Chinese, “almost” words like 快 (kuài) and 差点 (chàdiǎn) are usually placed before verbs or at the end of sentences. Here are some examples of correct usage:
- 我快 memorize 忘记那么多词了。 Wǒ kuài memorize wàngjì nàme duō cí le. I almost memorize forgot so many words.
- 他差点就 cry 哭了。 Tā chàdiǎn jiù cry kū le. He almost cry cried.
- 我险些 be hit 被车撞到。 Wǒ xiǎnxiē be hit bèi chē zhuàng dào. I almost be hit was hit by a car.
- 我们差一点 miss 错过飞机。 Wǒmen chà yì diǎn miss cuòguò fēijī. We almost miss missed the plane.
So in summary, these “almost” words typically come directly before a verb or verbal phrase, or at the end of a sentence to emphasize how close something came to happening.
Using “Almost” with Nouns and Adjectives
In Chinese, you cannot directly modify nouns or adjectives with “almost” words like 快 (kuài) or 差点 (chàdiǎn). Instead, you need to use a construction with the character 差 (chà):
Noun/Adj + 差一点儿 (chà yì diǎnr)
成功差一点儿 Chénggōng chà yì diǎnr Success just short of Almost successful
这里差一点儿安静 Zhèlǐ chà yì diǎnr ānjìng Here just short of quiet Almost quiet here
他差一点儿哭了 Tā chà yì diǎnr kū le He just short of cried He almost cried
So when using “almost” with nouns or adjectives in Chinese, insert the construction 差一点儿 (chà yì diǎnr) before the noun/adjective.
Chinese Words for “Barely” and “Scarcely”
Some other useful words in Chinese to convey being just short of something include:
勉强 (miǎnqiǎng) – Means “barely.” Used to express just barely meeting some requirement or threshold.
我勉强及格了考试。 Wǒ miǎnqiǎng jígé le kǎoshì. I barely passed the exam.
仅仅 (jǐnjǐn) – Translates to “barely” or “only just.” Conveys something was just within limits.
我们仅仅赶上了最后一班车。 Wǒmen jǐnjǐn gǎnshàng le zuì hòu yì bān chē.
We barely caught the last bus.
几乎不 (jīhū bù) – Means “barely” or “scarcely.” Indicates something almost didn’t happen.
我几乎不听懂他在说什么。 Wǒ jīhū bù tīng dǒng tā zài shuō shénme. I barely understood what he was saying.
我们几乎不能按时完成这个项目。 Wǒmen jīhū bù néng àn shí wánchéng zhège xiàngmù. We could scarcely complete this project on time.
So in summary, 勉强 (miǎnqiǎng), 仅仅 (jǐnjǐn) and 几乎不 (jīhū bù) all express barely doing something or just meeting some threshold. They convey being very close to not achieving something.
Common “Almost” Phrases
Here are some useful Chinese phrases with “almost”:
- 差一点就…了 (chà yì diǎn jiù…le) – “Almost…”
差一点就迟到了。 Chà yì diǎn jiù chídào le. Almost arrived late.
差一点就成功了。 Chà yì diǎn jiù chénggōng le. Almost succeeded.
- 险些…了 (xiǎnxiē…le) – “Nearly…”
险些迷路了。 Xiǎnxiē mílù le.
Nearly got lost.
险些摔倒了。 Xiǎnxiē shuāidǎo le. Nearly fell down.
- 差点儿…了 (chàdiǎnr…le) – “Almost…”
差点儿迟到了。 Chàdiǎnr chídào le. Almost arrived late.
差点儿相撞了。 Chàdiǎnr xiāngzhuàng le. Almost crashed into each other.
So in conversational Chinese, these “…了” constructions are very common and natural ways to express a close call or near miss.
Difference Between 使用 and 快用光
There is a subtle distinction in Chinese between 使用 (shǐyòng) meaning “to use” and 快用光 (kuài yòngguāng) meaning “to almost use up.”
使用 simply means to use something, while 快用光 implies you have nearly exhausted the supply. For example:
- 我使用了很多牛奶。 Wǒ shǐyòng le hěn duō niúnǎi. I used a lot of milk.
- 我快用光了牛奶。 Wǒ kuài yòngguāng le niúnǎi. I almost used up the milk.
So 快用光 indicates you have nearly run out of something, while 使用 just means normal usage without that connotation.
Expressing “almost” in Chinese can be nuanced, with different words implying slightly different meanings. By mastering terms like 快 (kuài), 差点 (chàdiǎn), 险些 (xiǎnxiē) and their usage, you can communicate with more precision in Mandarin.
Remember that “almost” words usually come before verbs or verb phrases, while 差一点儿 (chà yì diǎnr) is used with nouns and adjectives. Phrases like 差一点就…了 are very common in conversational Chinese.
Hopefully this breakdown of how to say “almost” in Chinese has provided a helpful reference. With practice, you’ll be able to integrate these words and expressions into your vocabulary for fluently conveying the nuance of “almost” in Mandarin.
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