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会 / 要

Discussion in '中文+方言 (Chinese)' started by stelingo, Jun 15, 2013.

  1. stelingo Senior Member

    I wrote a paragraph about my daily routine which someone corrected on Lang8. I have a question about a couple of the corrections. The person suggested I use 会 and 要 in the sentences below. I'm not sure why, as I'm talking about what I usually do, not the future or ability. Can anybody enlighten me? Thanks.


    Sometimes a colleague gives me a lift. I usually stay at school until 5. I prepare lessons and correct homework.
    : modality
  2. Daffodil100

    Daffodil100 Senior Member

    # 1 一个同事让我搭便车。 会 =will, and be willing to do something

    # 2 我一般在学校待到五点。 会=will

    # 3 我备课,批改学生作业. 要 =want

    P.S. For the contexts you provided only.
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2013
  3. zhg Senior Member

    I think it's fine to use 会 in your sentences as it indicates a strong likelihood(at least 90% percent) , not restricted to future tense only, but can also be used in all tenses when combined with other time adverbs. In this context, the speaker is more interested in expressing whether it happens or not ,than saying it happens in the near future.

    要 Means "need" here not ability nor future.

    For instance
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2013
  4. tarlou Senior Member

    In your sentence the first one (after 同事) must be 会, for the 2nd and 3rd places, both 会 and 要 are fine.
  5. rerelapse New Member

    I get your points that you may consider using '会'only when you intend to express you are able to do sth .So the correction(of 会) seems unreasonable.yet,only in English.In Chinese,you can use '会‘in many various sentences, not only can it present the meaning that you have the ability to do sth ,but also it can deliver the meaning that sth is likely to happen in the future.In your case,the first use of '会' indicates that your colleague's behaviour happens possibly (that is likely to happen,but you're not sure)and the second use of'会'also convey the meaning,as I have mentioned,that sth is likely to happen.However,You may notice that frequency is much high than your companion's behavious,so you may say I stay at school probablyor more precisely,as you used,usually.In conclusion,although the probability is different as you may use 'always''normally''impossibly'etc.to take a control of the degree of '会'.
    Here is an example:1.今天下雨 It is likely to rain(today is not over so literally,it is in the future) 今天很有可能下雨 It is very likely to rain.

    Besides that,the word'要'here means you need to do sth,here '要'equals‘需要’,which suggests that you do it initially to achieve sth or get what you want.
    Here is an example:1.I(need to) work to support my family.我要工作来养家,you can also put the ()thing in your line.I(need to) prepare lessons and correct homework.
  6. xiaolijie

    xiaolijie MOD

    English (UK)
    Since 会 and 要 were suggested to add to the sentence to make it better, I guess the OP probably wants to know what is wrong with the sentence without them:

    I think this is a good question, and a good opportunity to explain the difference between idiomatic Chinese and English:
    Sometimes a colleague gives me a lift. I usually stay at school until 5. I prepare lessons and correct homework.
  7. stelingo Senior Member

    Yes. that is a good question.
  8. stellari Senior Member

    Mandarin Chinese
    Generally speaking, 要 introduces 1) a desire , and/or 2) an action the subject needs to/has to perform, but the desire or action will not necessarily happen; 会, on the other hand, indicates the action will almost surely occur, but it is not necessarily anyone's desire or need.

    In your sentence, replacing the first 会 with 要 does not sound very good, because 要 means that your colleague has a strong desire to give you a lift, but you may not necessarily take his offer. As a matter of fact, using 要 in this context usually indicates you will NOT take his offer because you would have said 会 otherwise.

    Replacing the second 会 with 要 is okay, but the latter implies that the staying in the school is mandatory, whereas 会 is more like : "this is what would usually happen".

    Replacing the third 要 with 会 is also okay. Again, 要 suggests that the preparation of lessons is mandatory and/or is what 'I' want to do.
  9. zhg Senior Member

    I can't see anything wrong without using 会 要,if you are discribing three seperate things and you want to emphasize that they are all routines(In fact using words 会 and 要 doesn't necessarily change their tenses,that is to say, they can still be implying present tense judging from the context.) Though the modified version sounds better and gives(or at least indicates since 因为 is omitted)logical connections especially the last two sentences. As I understand ,adding 要 in the last sentence clarifies the relation between it and its preceding sentence(I stay at school untill five o'clock because I need to prepare lessons and correct homeworks)
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2013
  10. HYCHIN Junior Member

    Let me try to explain what is bad (if not wrong) for 会 and 要 to be absent, especially in the first sentence:

    The word 会 has a complex set of meanings (the word in green are the meanings we now have):
    1. future or prediction
    2. conditional
    3. willingness
    4. habitual events
    5. ability
    The word 要 is simpler: necessity and desire.

    有时 and 一般 convey the meaning that the habitual event happens just occasionally. Sometimes it happens and sometimes it does not happen.
    If 有时 and 一般 are absent, the sentence does not mean a habitual event that occasionally happens, but a particular past event:
    有时, 有(一个)同事让我搭便车。
    We can understand that it is just a particular past event. If 会 is used in this sentence, it has the meaning of future or prediction.

    However, we are talking about habitual events, using the adverbs 有时 and 一般.
    The sentence without 会 and 要 will sounds too obligatory (I mean it involves too little volition).
    I compared the sentence with the following sentences.
    (2) 从此,太阳每天都从西方升起。 Since then, the sun rose in the west every day.
    The word 会 in this sentence has a future or prediction meaning.
    If 会 is absent, the event is said as a fact, needing no one's volition. But the event itself needs no volition of the sun or of anyone, either.
    So, although the two ways are not identical in meaning, they are equally good ways to express the idea.

    However, as for (1), the word 会 has the idea of willingness.
    For example, you and your colleague arrange the ride. The arrangement needs the willingness of you and your colleague.
    If 会 is absent, the idea of willingness decreases. In this way, you and your colleague are like a being without volition, or a robot, just as the sun is something without volition to choose the direction to rise.
    So you need the word 会 in the first sentence.

    The other two sentences is not as bad as the first sentence if 会 and 要 are absent. Perhaps the subject 我 has suggested enough volition. But using them is better.

    PS. I asked a similar question here. There are some situations where Chinese prefers using the verb 会 but the English doesn't. However, it seems to be irrelevant to this thread.

    PS. There is a mistake in the sentence, apart from the use of 会 and 要:
    Chinese is topic prominent, and hence forbids an indefinite noun phrase at the subject position, unless it is used in a generic sense (see this).
    But 一个同事 is an indefinite in your sentence. You have to make it more definite:
    Alternatively, use the word 有 to put the indefinite noun phrase in a grammatically object position.
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2013
  11. SuperXW Senior Member

    I always introduce my own knack:
    要 = need to
    会 = 1. will 2. know how to do.
  12. xiaolijie

    xiaolijie MOD

    English (UK)
    Thank you for the detailed and informative reply to my question, HYCHIN!

    Most learners know about 会 and 要 but they tend to speak - naturally - the way they do in their own language and posts like this will help bringing their attention to how the same idea would be phrased in Chinese.
  13. stelingo Senior Member

    Yes, thanks to everyone who contributed, especially Hychin. Some useful pointers. Chinese grammar certainly is not as straight forward as many people like to claim.

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