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上vs里 directional complement

Hi @YuQinCai, @Constance_Fang @Fiona and the ChinesePod team, my question is this:

I listened to the intermediate lesson on directional complements and heard that to say “I’m in the car” is “我在车上”. But can you also say "我在车里“?

Also, how do you communicate someone is physically on top of the car?

Hi there,

Normally, we say 我在车上. We say 我在车里 only when we want to emphasize “I am in the car not outside.” As for being physically on top of the car, we would say 我在车顶 (be on the rood of the car). If there’s still any other question, feel free to leave them here.


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I feel like 我在车上 means I’m on the bus/taxi. 我在车里 is a slightly different though. It not only refers to the fact that I’m on a bus/taxi but also that I’m physically in a vehicle. To say someone is physically on the top of a car, you may say “XXX在车顶上”

Hope this helps!

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Hey Betty, thanks for the quick reply. It was very clear :slight_smile:

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Hi, Betty, so 我在车上 and 我在车里, they are the same meaning,just people normally say 我在车上,correct?

Could you say 他在车的上面?

他在车的上面 is not same as 他在车上. 他在车的上面 means he’s on the top of the car.

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Hi @gracechen7874,

That’s right!

Hi @233415764,

Just like what @Jeremypu2019 said, 他在车的上面 means he’s on the roof of the car. Or you can also say 他在车顶 [tā zài chē dǐng].

If there’s any other question, feel free to ask. :smile:


Thanks. I mean as an alternative to 他在车顶, sorry I didn’t make that clear.

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