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Just About To 正要 in Chinese

just about to

 

Last week, my tutor introduced me to a very helped phrase and grammar structure for Chinese. The gist of the English translation is:

 

 

 

“just when (someone) was going to proceed to do _(this)_,

_(this other thing)_happened (to interrupt).”

 

We both made up several sentences using this, which I hope you find both useful for reinforcing the concept and having fun creating your own sentences.

Here is some specific vocabulary to help prepare for the sentences:

 

生字,生詞

ㄕㄥ ㄗˋ ,ㄕㄥㄘˊ

(shēng zì, shēng cí)

new character, new word = vocabulary


 

正要

ㄓㄥˋ ㄧㄠˋ

(zhèng yào)

to be just about to, to be on the point of

 

打電話

ㄉㄚˇ ㄉㄧㄢˋ ㄏㄨㄚˋ

(dǎ diàn huà)

to make a phone call

 

進來 (click this link if you wan to learn more about how to talk about coming or going in Chinese)

ㄗㄡˇ ㄐㄧㄣˋ ㄌㄞˊ

(zǒu jìn lái)

to walk in, to enter

 

ㄜˋ

(è)

to be hungry

 

出門

ㄔㄨ ㄇㄣˊ

(chū mén)

to go out the door, to travel, not at home

 

下雨

ㄒㄧㄚˋ ㄩˇ

(xià yǔ)

to rain

 

跑步

ㄆㄠˇ ㄅㄨˋ

(pǎo bù)

to run

 

孫子

ㄙㄨㄣ ㄗ˙

(sūn zi.)

grandson

 

玩一玩

ㄨㄢˊ ㄧˋ  ㄨㄢˊ

(wán yì wán)

to play a bit

 

園子

ㄩㄢˊ ㄗ˙

(yuán zi.)

garden

 

工作

ㄍㄨㄥ ㄗㄨㄛˋ

(gōng zuò)

to work, job

 

洗碗

ㄒㄧˊ ㄨㄢˇ

(xí wǎn)

to wash + bowl/small plate = to wash dishes

 

洗碗盤

ㄒㄧˊ ㄨㄢˇ ㄆㄢˊ

(xí wǎn pán)

to wash + bowls and plates = to wash dishes

 

離開

ㄌㄧˊ ㄎㄞ

(lí kāi)

to leave, to depart

 

辦公室

ㄅㄢˋ ㄍㄨㄥ ㄕˋ

(bàn gōng shì)

office, business premises

 

告訴

ㄍㄠˋ ㄙㄨˋ

(gào sù)

to tell, to let know

 

 

Next, here is the grammatical structure showing the Chinese characters in place:

 

(someone) 正要 (this), (something else first or instead)

 

正要  ㄓㄥˋ ㄧㄠˋ  (zhèng yào) to be just about to, to be on the point of

正   ㄓㄥˋ  (zhèng) by itself, for this translation, means “just, exactly, right”

要   ㄧㄠˋ  (yào) in this case, means “to desire” or “to want” to do whatever is being referred to next.

 

You can see from the structure of the sentences below that there can be some variation of how to transition to the second part of the sentence.

 

Now, here are some sentences:

 

我正要打電話給妳,妳就打來了!

(我)(正要)(打電話)(給)(妳),(妳)(就)(打來)(了)

(ㄨㄛˇ) (ㄓㄥˋ ㄧㄠˋ) (ㄉㄚˇ ㄉㄧㄢˋ ㄏㄨㄚˋ) (ㄍㄟˇ) (ㄋㄧˇ), (ㄋㄧˇ) (ㄐㄧㄡˋ) [(ㄉㄚˇ ㄌㄞˊ) (ㄌㄜ˙)]

(wǒ) (zhèng yào) (dǎ diàn huà) (gěi) (nǐ), (nǐ) (jiù) [(dǎ lái)(le.)]

(I) (just about to) (make phone call) (to give) (you), (you) (just then) [(call come)(emphasize completion)]

I was just about to call you, when you called!

 

我正要吃飯,他就走進來。

(我)(正要)(吃)(飯),(他)(就)(走進)(來)

(ㄨㄛˇ) (ㄓㄥˋ ㄧㄠˋ) (ㄔㄈㄢˋ), (ㄊㄚ) (ㄐㄧㄡˋ) (ㄗㄡˇ ㄐㄧㄣˋ) (ㄌㄞˊ)

(wǒ) (zhèng yào) (chī) (fàn), (tā) (jiù) (zǒu jìn) (lái)

(I) (just about to) (to eat) (meal), (he) (just then) (to enter) (to come)

I was just about to eat, when he came in.

 

我正要睡覺時,肚子有點餓,想吃宵夜。

(我)(正要)(睡覺)(時),(肚子)(有)(點)(餓),(想)(吃)(宵夜)

(ㄨㄛˇ) (ㄓㄥˋ ㄧㄠˋ) (ㄕㄨㄟˋ ㄐㄧㄠˋ) (ㄕˊ), (ㄉㄨˊ ㄗ˙) (ㄧㄡˇ) (ㄉㄧㄢˇ) (ㄜˋ), (ㄒㄧㄤˇ) (ㄔ) (ㄒㄧㄠ ㄧㄝˋ)

(wǒ) (zhèng yào) (shuì jiào) (shí2), (du2 zi.) (yǒu) (diǎn) (è),                                                                        (xiǎng) (chī) (xiāo yè)

(I) (just about to) (to go to bed) (when), (stomach) (to have) (a little) (to be hungry), (to think, to want) (to eat) (midnight snack)

When I was just about to go to bed my stomach felt hungry, so I wanted to eat a midnight snack.

 

我正要出門時,就下雨了。

(我)(正要)(出)(門)(時),(就)[(下)(雨)(了)]

(ㄨㄛˇ) (ㄓㄥˋ ㄧㄠˋ) (ㄔㄨ) (ㄇㄣˊ) (ㄕˊ), (ㄐㄧㄡˋ) [(ㄒㄧㄚˋ) (ㄩˇ) (ㄌㄜ˙)]

(wǒ) (zhèng yào) [(chū)(mén)] (shí), (jiù) [(xià)(yǔ)(le.)]

(I) (just about to) [(to go out)(door)] (when), (just then) [(down) (rain) (intensifier)]

When I was just about to go outside, it started raining.

 

我正要出去跑步時,我的孫子問我跟他玩一玩。

(我)(正要)(出去)(跑步)(時),(我的)(孫子)(問)(我)(跟)(他)(玩一玩)

(ㄨㄛˇ) (ㄓㄥˋ ㄧㄠˋ) (ㄔㄨ ㄑㄩˋ) (ㄆㄠˇ ㄅㄨˋ) (ㄕˊ),

…………(ㄨㄛˇ ㄉㄜ˙) (ㄙㄨㄣ ㄗ˙) (ㄨㄣˋ) (ㄨㄛˇ) (ㄍㄣ) (ㄊㄚ) (ㄨㄢˊ ㄧ ㄨㄢˊ)

(wǒ) (zhèng yào) (chū qù) (pǎo bù) (shí),

………….(wǒ3 de.) (sūn zi.) (wèn) (wǒ) (gēn) (tā) (wán yī wán)

(I) (just about to) (to go out) (to run) (when),

………….(my) (grandson) (to ask) (me) (with) (him) (to play a bit)

When I was just about to go out for a run, my grandson asked me to play with him for a bit.

 

我正要去園子裡工作時,我想到我得洗碗。

(我)(正要)(去)(園子)(裡)(工作)(時),(我)(想到)(我)(得)(洗碗)

(ㄨㄛˇ) (ㄓㄥˋ ㄧㄠˋ) (ㄑㄩˋ) (ㄩㄢˊ ㄗ˙) (ㄌㄧˇ) (ㄍㄨㄥ ㄗㄨㄛˋ) (ㄕˊ)

…………(ㄨㄛˇ) (ㄒㄧㄤˇ ㄉㄠˋ) (ㄨㄛˇ) (ㄉㄟˇ) (ㄒㄧˇ  ㄨㄢˇ)

(wǒ) (zhèng yào) (qù) (yuán zi.) (lǐ) (gōng zuò) (shí),

…………(wǒ) (xiǎng dào) (wǒ) (děi) (xǐ wǎn)

(I) (just about to) (to go) (garden) (in) (to work) (when),

…………(I) (recalled to mind) (I) (must) (wash dishes)

When I was just about to go out to work in the garden, I remembered I needed to wash the dishes.

 

And here are a couple of sentences that show you can also use the phrase simply to say your are actually just about to do something:

 

我正要離開辦公室。

(我)(正要)(離開)(辦公室)

(ㄨㄛˇ) (ㄓㄥˋ ㄧㄠˋ) (ㄌㄧˊ ㄎㄞ) (ㄅㄢˋ ㄍㄨㄥ ㄕˋ)

(wǒ) (zhèng yào) (lí kāi) (bàn gōng shì)

(I) (just about to) (to depart, to leave) (office)

I’m just about to leave the office.

 

我正要告訴他。

(我)(正要)(告訴)(他)

(ㄨㄛˇ) (ㄓㄥˋ ㄧㄠˋ) (ㄍㄠˋ ㄙㄨˋ) (ㄊㄚ)

(wǒ) (zhèng yào) (gào sù) (tā)

(I) (just about to) (to tell) (him)

I’m just about to tell him.

 

Maybe you can try to make up a few sentences of your own? If you put them in the comments, I will choose some to review with my tutor and will add any corrections or clarifications that she gives.

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