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yuán lái
adj. original, former
Discussion of 原来/原來
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In this post we try to analyze two similar words — 原来 and 本来.

1. Both are adjectives, describing a situation from before which hasn’t changed. In sentences, they are used as attributive modifiers, and most of the time, “的” is used after 原来/本来 and before the noun that they modify.
E.g. 原来的土路都变成了柏油马路。 [phr] The unsurfaced road has been changed into pitch road.
E.g. 历史学家的工作是还原历史的本来面貌。 [phr] The historian's work is to find the original appearance of history.

2. Both are also adverbs indicating a situation before the change occurred, used before or after the subject of a sentence, and before modal verbs, negative adverbs and other adverbs.
E.g. 你本来说好要来的呀。 [phr] You originally agreed to come.
E.g. 我原来/本来是演员,现在想做导演。 [phr] I was an actor, but now I want to be a director.

3. When 原来 and 本来 are used as adverbs, they also have their own usages — their differences:
3.1. When 本来 is an adverb, it also indicates “as a matter of course”:
E.g. 有些交通事故本来是可以避免的。 [phr] Some traffic accidents can be avoided before they happen.
E.g. 你本来就不应该去北京。 [phr] You shouldn't have gone to Beijing in the first place.

3.2. When 原来 is an adverb, it also indicates discovering the true situation, cause or reason.
E.g. 原来昨天那个人是你啊。 [phr] It turned out that the person from yesterday was you.
E.g. 汽油短缺的谣传原来是一场虚惊. [phr] The rumor of petrol shortage turned out to be a false alarm.
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