Hey guys, this word-choice issue has confused me for a long time. I find it very difficult to figure what to say when I am “about” to do something. More broadly, this is a question about specific word choice regarding action to be taken, relative to its context, in a short period time from the present without specifying time.
So to preface, I certainly know that in Chinese you often have to specify time, and learning when and when not to can be an artform, but that is part of what I am asking, how to know when you shouldn’t specify time and you just want to say “soon” “about to” etc.
Now, what do I mean specifically by that? I think this one example illustrates the difficulty-- obviously in English you can be “about” to go to the store (likely meaning 5 minutes from now) or “about” to go to Germany (almost certainly not meaning five minutes from now.) Another one, “I am going to head out soon” vs. “Soon the enemy will be here.” Splitting the difference between these two meanings in Chinese requires really knowing your vocab and their 搭配, but I still need help. I will give a lot of examples to show what I mean. If there is a lesson on this please direct me to it, but I think this is a very important point.
I will write many examples of the complexity I am talking about, but what I am hoping to get from this is a series of rules of thumb or perhaps an explanation of how to go about practicing when one should be used over the other in given situation, (and of course, if there is a lesson please let me know.)
Anyone in the comments if you have any good examples please respond.
Vocab examples (when to use each?)
即將， 馬上， 將要， 將來， 立即， 立刻， 就要， 待要， 正要， 一會兒，等一會兒，不一會兒， 快要 ，快， 不久，旋即
English examples (some obviously may be identical)
I am going to the store soon
I am about to go to the store
Yes yes, I know I am going to the store (implying very soon but not known)
Yes Yes, I know I am going to finish the chapter (not known but promising ambiguous soon but definitely longer than promising to get up and go to the store)
Soon I will be going to Russia (talking to someone at the bar about future plans)
I am about to get on the play (at the gate)
We are about to take off (on the plane)
She is about to arrive
She will be arriving soon
Momentarily he will be arriving
Soon the enemy will be here
It won’t be long before I go
It won’t be long before that pipe bursts
I think the engine is about to fail
We will run out of gas soon (but has not felt the car struggle)