Chinese Grammar: Time match: 一时 vs. 一度
Recently the weather has turned unpredictable. It’ll start to rain suddenly without any warning, even though it is a sunny day. And then the rain doesn’t last a long time. Strange.
If you ever find yourself in a situation like that, do you know how to express “suddenly” or talk about “a temporary situation” or a “moment” in Chinese? Let us show you!
You'll be relieved to hear you use each differently, as the two aren’t interchangeable. So it’s time for the battle of the two! When should you use which?
一时 is the one you’ll want to use to talk about short periods of time, regardless of whether they have passed or not.
一度, on the other hand, is your go-to word to talk about something that occurred, specifically, in a period of time that has passed.
Let’s explore each word in more detail, starting with 一时.
一时 for a short period of time
一时 can first describe a moment, a short period of time. It also means something “temporary”, “sudden,” or “momentary”.
[Subject + 一时 + Verb/Verbal Phrase]
Use 一度 for a period of time in the past
一度 also indicates something that took place for a short period of time. The difference with 一时 is that 一度 only works with the past: this event must have already taken place. Also, 一度 is primarily used to place emphasis on something bad that happened. Prepare for sad examples.
[Subject + 一度 + Verb/Verbal Phrase]
Talk about “once a year” with 一度
一度 also has another role: it is used to talk about something that only happens “once “in a while. It’s then always paired with 一 年 to form the four-word set phrase 一年一度, which means “once a year” or “annually”. Always add a 的 after this set phrase to describe something.
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