"I eat at 1:30."


January 25, 2018

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Why is 饭 (fan) included it means rice which isn't part of the translation


Actually, the meaning of character 饭 is not rice. Duolingo makes a mistake here. But it is understandable, as a full explanation would require some knowledge about the history of Chinese food.

When people eat rice, they do not mill it into rice flour. Instead, they heat the rice grains directly with steam. The food cooked in this way is called 饭. In ancient China. 饭 is the most common way for cooking grains. People made 饭 from millet, barley and even wheat (麦饭). But most of them disappeared in history, only the rice 饭 remains.

Since 饭 was so important for Chinese people, the meaning of this character gradually becomes "meal". In modern Chinese, "吃饭" means "have a meal", instead of "eat the steam-cooked grain".

If what you want to say is exactly "steamed rice", use the word 米饭. There are three words in Chinese that may be translated into "rice" in English:

  • 稻: rice, the plant
  • 米: rice, the grain
  • 米饭: rice, threshed, steamed and ready for eating. Sometimes shortened as 饭.


Interesting! Thanks for the background!


Thanks. But doesn't "吃" alone mean "eat"? So shouldn't "我一点半吃" be correct? Why do we need the "饭" at all?


我一点半吃 is technically correct and people will speak like this when they are in a hurry. But in most cases 吃饭 is used instead of 吃 when there is no object after the verb. Same for the verb 睡. 睡觉(sleep a sleep) is more common than a single verb 睡.


Many Chinese verbs require objects no matter what, and if there isn't an object, there is a default one to use. For 吃 it's 饭. Others include 唱歌 (歌 is required, you can't just say 我喜欢唱) and 画画 (the first 画 is the verb, second is the object). Also the second character of verbs like 跑步, 游泳, and 睡觉 are also dummy objects, even though these words don't always take objects in English (I run, I swim, I sleep).


I think you're going to encounter seemingly redundant words right next to each other quite often in Chinese. This video explains it perfectly in 6 minutes. (or just search Why Chinese HATES 1 syllable words on youtube) https://youtu.be/Iro19GB6fH8


Amazing! thank you so much


Great explanation. Thank you so much


My understanding is: 吃饭 means 'eating' in general, but can also mean that you eat rice, depending on the sentence. And 吃 followed by a food tells whát you eat.


I replied "一点半我吃饭" and it was accepted.


In chinese grammar, the subject must be placed before the object. This is correct because you've technically said the same thing, but turned 一点半 into the subject, making the english equivalent "at one oclock, I eat." Duolingo seems to change its mind re: when to be picky about keeping the sentence order the same or not


should the adjective of time be strictly fixed or it may switch places with the noun?


Um, it's grammatically an adverbial.

In Chinese, the adverbial is put before the verb in almost every cases even if the adverbial is a nasty long clause. Some adverbial, called "complement" in Chinese grammar, is put after the verb. But that's another story.


Would 我吃饭在一点半(Wǒ chīfàn zài yīdiǎn bàn) make sense with the extra zai? Or is it incorrect?

Is there no need for an AT character?

Also, I submitted 我吃饭一点半 (Wǒ chīfàn yīdiǎn bàn), I thought word order in mandarin was flexible, any particular reason why this was marked wrong?


First, as I've mentioned in the comment above, in Chinese the adverbial is put before the verb in almost every cases, which is different from English. So 我吃饭在一点半 is ungrammatical.

Second, the character "at" is not required in this sentence, but it is required when you want to express the location of the action (e.g. "at the end of the road").

And finally, the word order in mandarin is probably not that flexible as you may think.


This was very helpful, thank you.


Sorry if this a late reply but nope, as what i've learnt in my school, the structure of a sentence in Chinese would be like this:

Subject+Adv of time+Verb+Object or you could also switch the subject and the adv of time, so it would be like this: Adv. of time+Subject+Verb+Object.

So the adv of time couldn't be at the end. Hope this help and cmiiw!


Duolingo should at least tech us whst thr word means before asking us a question about it. Its like learning cosines, sines, and tangents. You cant just expect the student to solve a question using the law of sines or cosines.


well there is a button you should click before going into the lesson, it's next to the button for skipping to the next level. It opens a page explaining everything you'll need.


In theory, at least.


For the most part I think I catch on pretty quick learning Chinese thing that trips me up sometimes is the way sentences are written backwards and some are not. For example this one I wrote it out as 我吃饭一点半


Why is the word order different to a similar sentence. Previously it was S + V + Time. But here is S + Time + V I'm so confused


In English (and other similar languages, like Swedish), "I eat at 1:30" could mean 1 out of 2, or even both things.

It could mean that you're [usually] eating at 1:30, or/and it could mean that you [will] eat at 1:30.

So the question is if the Chinese sentence only applies to the latter, or if it can also mean both, depending on context?



[deactivated user]

    I think that means: "I ate at 1:30," so it is the wrong tense.


    why 我吃饭在一点半 doesn't work?


    Can you say 在一点半我吃饭


    我吃一点半 is this sentence really incorrect?


    can i use comma here?



    Why is at left out


    Why is 我一点半吃饭 incorrect?


    I'm sure I got this right!


    Me too, but yet it was marked wrong!


    Should you always use 半 or is it okay to use 三十分?


    I see "五点半“ as "half past five" and "五点三十分“ as "5:30" though they all mean the same.(please correct me if i'm wrong)


    It's not made sense from English to Chinese or from Chinese to English. Please check !

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