Chinese is the world’s most widely spoken language. You will meet native Chinese speakers all over the world, as the language has over one billion speakers.
Why should you learn Chinese? That’s because it’s a surefire way to increase your career opportunities. China will play a significant role in world events in the future, so knowing Chinese may give you an advantage when competing for critical positions.
Although Chinese is notoriously difficult, especially for English speakers, it’s an enjoyable language to learn. Here, we’ll teach you some basic grammar to get you started!
How to Use 到 in Chinese
到 (dào) is a commonly used particle in Chinese. It can be roughly translated to “to.” 到 is often associated with direction and time, but you can also use it in different situations with different meanings.
Without further ado, let’s dive in!
从······到······ As “From…To….”
从······到······ (cóng… dào…) is “from…to…” in English. You can use this phrase in two situations: time and place.
From One Time to Another
Firstly, when you want to say “from one time to another,” the structure is “从 + time 1 + 到 + time 2”. The “time” doesn’t have to be specific; it can also indicate any event or action.
Let’s take a look at some examples:
(zhè mén kè shì cóng zǎo shàng shí diǎn dào zhōng wǔ shí èr diǎn ma).
Is this lesson from 10 am to 12 pm?
(wǒ cóng huó dòng kāi shǐ dào ié shù dōu hěn máng)
I was busy from the start to the end of the activity.
From One Place to Another
Next, to say “from one place to another,” the structure is similar: “从 + place 1 + 到 + place 2”.
Here are some examples:
(cóng niǔ yuē dào běi jīng yào zuò chāo guò shí gè xiǎo shí de fēi jī)
A flight from New York to Beijing takes more than ten hours.
(cóng zhè lǐ dào nà lǐ yào zǒu duō yuǎn)
How far do I need to walk from here to there?
到 As “To Go To.”
Using the verb 到 is a simple way to express that someone is going to or has arrived at a place.
To say that you have arrived at a place, use “subject + 到 + place.” For example:
(nǐ dào xué xiào le ma)
Have you arrived at school?
(tā huì bǐ wǒ men xiān dào)
He will arrive before us.
If you are coming or going to a place, you can say “到 + place + 来/去.” 来 (lái) means “to come,” while 去 (qù) means “to go.” For instance:
(wǒ yào dào cān guǎn qù)
I want to go to a restaurant.
(nǐ kěyǐ dào wǒ jiā lái ma)
Can you come to my house?
Now, let’s complicate it a little bit and say you want to go somewhere to do something. You can use this structure: “subject + 到 + place + verb phrase”. This situation is different from the first one because it doesn’t mean “to arrive” anymore.
Let’s look at some examples:
(wǒ yào dào cān guǎn chī fàn)
I want to go to a restaurant to eat. / I want to eat at a restaurant.
(wǒ dào tā jiā tǎo lùn gōng kè)
I go to her house to discuss homework.
直到 As “All The Way Until.”
直到 (zhí dào) means “all the way until,” with an emphasis on something “being late” or “took too long.”
First, to use it in affirmative form, remember this structure: “直到 + event/time, subject + 才 (cái) ······.” This context means “not until (a certain time) did something happen” in English. You can also place the subject before 直到.
To make it clearer, here are some example sentences:
(Zhí dào dà xué bì yè, wǒ cái zhǎo dào nán péng yǒu)
Not until I graduated from university did I manage to find a boyfriend.
(tā zhí dào zhōng wǔ cái xǐng lái)
Not until noon did he wake up.
For the negative form, the structure “直到 + event/time + subject + 都 (dōu) + 不/没 (bù/méi)······” is used. It means something still hasn’t occurred until a certain time. 都 here means “still,” while 不/没 is “haven’t. “ Similarly, you can move the subject to the front too.
Let’s take a look at some example sentences:
(zhi dào wǒ men chī wán fàn, tā dōu méi lái)
He still hasn’t shown up until we’ve finished our meal.
(wǒ xué le wǔ nián zhōng wén, zhí dào xiàn zài wǒ dū bù huì kàn wén yán wén)
I have studied Chinese for five years, and until now, I still can’t read classical Chinese.
到 As “Until.”
When expressing that you’ve been doing something until a specific time or event, you use 到 as “until” by popping it behind a verb.
The basic structure is easy: “verb + (一直) + 到 + time/event”. Here, if you insert 一直 (yī zhí), you want to emphasize that the action “keeps going on.” The verbs used in this structure mostly have only one syllable.
To get a clearer idea, read these examples:
(Nǐ men yào chǎo dào jǐ shí)
How long are you going to fight for?
(wǒ yào yī zhí gé lí dào xīn guān jiǎn cè chéng yīn xìng)
I’m going to quarantine until I test negative for Covid-19.
For verb phrases longer than one syllable, you can use it like this: “verb phrase + (，一直) + verb + 到 + time/event.” Unlike the first one, you repeat the first character of the verb phrase before 到. If you want to add 一直, add a comma before it to make the sentence sound smoother.
(zuó tiān lǎo bǎn hé jīng lǐ kāi huì kāi dào wǎn shàng)
The boss and the manager had a meeting yesterday until the evening.
(wǒ hé tā shì xùn liáo tiān yī zhí liáo dào tiān liàng)
I video chat with her until dawn.
There are still more complicated ways to use 到, but learning these basics is enough for day-to-day conversations! It’s interesting how one character can hold so many different meanings when paired with different phrases, isn’t it?
Hopefully, this article has helped you understand the character “到.” We are always eager to help you expand your Chinese grammar knowledge. Subscribe to Maayot to get more fun Chinese lessons in bite-sized chunks! You might also be interested in the articles below: