Career Magazine

182: How to Talk About Things in the Past in Mandarin Chinese

By Learnmandarinnow

Most people like to think and talk about the past now and then. Maybe about their childhood or school days—and especially if they moved away to live in another city. If you are one of such people, learn how to talk about things that you remember, or places you used to go!

In this Podcast, you will learn:

(i) To reminisce about things in the past

(ii) How to talk about places you remember from when you were younger


Two friends meet up in Beijing:


(zài jiē shàng)

(on the street)


Liǎng nián méi huí lái, Běi Jīng biàn huà hǎo dà a!

Haven’t been back for two years, Beijing has changed a lot!


Shì a, zhè lǐ yǐ qián shì gè chǒng wù shì chǎng, xiàn zài dōu biàn chéng bàn gōng lóu le.

Yes, there was a pet market here before. Now it has become an office building.


Nǐ hái jì de zán men xiǎo shí hòu zǒng qù de nà ge jiē xīn gōng yuán me?

Do you still remember the park by the street we always went to?


Jì de a!

Yes, I remember.


Nà lǐ yǐ jīng chāi le, xiàn zài zài jiàn gōng lù.

That place has been torn down. They’re building a road now.

Chinese words and phrases mentioned in this Podcast:

以前:before refers to a time in the past

过去:in the past

小时候:childhood, or when someone is young


宠物市场:pet market

办公楼:office building

街心公园(儿):literally means ‘street heart park’, it refers to a small park by the side of the street in the neighbourhood

拆:tear down, demolish


公路:road, generally refers to a road that connect cities and towns etc.


Cultural/Grammar note:

For past tense in Chinese, all you need to do is to say some words that indicate the past time. E.g. ‘以前’, ‘过去’, ‘咱们小时候’, etc.

Or you can also add ‘了’ to the end of the verb to indicate the past tense. E.g. ‘拆了’.

Mandarin Chinese learning resources we recommend:

Using Italki, a unique system of learning Mandarin Chinese where you interact with real teachers, is widely recognised as an effective way to learn a new language! You’ll make more progress and learn how native Chinese speakers really speak. Plus, Italki is more affordable than offline tutors, offline schools and software, and is convenient to use at your own pace and place!

Keats Chinese School
Keats Chinese School, which was founded in 2004, is one of the top Mandarin Chinese language schools in China, offering both one-on-one immersion Mandarin courses and small group Chinese classes. Located in Kunming, Keats develops personalised exercises and materials for students to meet their learning goals and requirements and can arrange a student visa for its 16 week course.

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