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Chinese Grammar: Lesson: Expressing “almost” with 差点(儿)&差点没

Just not so long ago, Yocha told me he almost won a million dollars in the lottery. Wow! The numbers were correct, but you know what? He wrote them down on a piece of paper; unfortunately, he forgot to buy those numbers! What a pity!

We all come across moments like that where we feel regret in our daily life. So today let’s look at some “regret words”, and more specifically, how the Chinese people express “almost”.

In Chinese, two words can express "almost", 差点() and 差点 . Both are useful to show the regret of not achieving something or to talk about something that was close to happening but didn’t.

Let’s first look at the most common one: 差点().

Using 差点()

差点() means to lack a little bit, so it's great to show something almost happened. In Chinese, people like to add after 差点() to strengthen the emotion.

Structure

Subject + 差点() + () + Verb Phrase +

Examples

差点迟到
I was almost late. (but arrived just in time)

差点儿
I was almost crying. (but didn't cry)

差点
I almost forgot. (but did remember)

差点儿 坏了
The car almost broke down. (but didn’t break down)

Using 差点

差点 is the same thing as 差点(). Often you'll hear the Chinese people adding a right after 差点 (no then). Maybe you want to ask why? Because that sounds a little confusing? Don’t worry. We’ll analyze it.

If you separate 差点 in two blocks, you get 差点 + . The first block 差点 you know, it means "almost" and the second one means "not". Together, they mean "almost didn't" as in I was close to not doing it.

Structure

Subject + 差点 + + Verb Phrase

Examples

差点 迟到
I was almost late. (almost late but wasn't)

差点 通过 考试
I almost failed the exam. (but didn’t)

差点
I almost went to visit you. (almost went but didn’t)

差点 吃完
I almost didn’t eat it all. (I almost didn't finish it, but I did)

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