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English Writing: When

Winter was coming on and the hills threatened the surrounding villages with destruction, for heavy rain would not only wash away the soil but would cause serious floods a s well.

We only travelled half the distance at sunset.
Sunset met us halfway.

The past few years witnessed the great influx of foreigners to China, for traveling, studies or business.

A warm and sunny Sunday found my whole family going for an outing at the beach.

There was a time when the owners of shops and businesses in Chicago had to pay large sums of money to gangsters in return for ‘protection’.

the night before: 

the earlier / previous / preceding  night

the night after

the next / following / succeeding / ensuing night 

Some time ago, an interesting discovery was made by archeologists on the Aegean island of Kea.

The city at one time must have been prosperous, for it enjoyed a high level of civilization.

at one time = once

The temple which the archeologists explored was used as a place of worship from the 15th century BC until Roman times.

BC = Before Christ; AD = Anno Domini

  • in modern/recent/ancient/prehistoric times
  • in times of peace / war
  • age: the Ice Age, the Stone Age, the modern age, the computer age
  • era/epoch: the steam-engine era/epoch, the end of an era/epoch, the beginning of a new era/epoch

The body of a statute was found among the remains dating from 15th century BC.

date from … / date back to … / can be traced back to …

The prosperity of the Silk Road dates from / dates back to / can be traced back to the distant Han Dynasty. 

night after night
night by night
every night
one night after another
day after day
day by day
every day

one day after another
Oceans apart, day after day, and I slowly go insane.
for weeks 好几周了
for hours 好几小时了
for months 好几个月了
for years 好几年了
for centuries 好几百年了

These days, people who do manual work often receive far more money than people who work in offices. 

today, nowadays

In those days wandering minstrels were welcome everywhere. 

From now on, he will wear a suit all day and others will call him ‘Mr. Bloggs’, not ‘Alf’. 

meanwhile,  at the same time
(in the) meantime

at once, immediately

originally, at the beginning / start

at first / initially

to start with / to begin with


only just — not long ago / before

  • Two of his assistants had been working busily since 8 o’clock and had only just finished.
  • We’ve only just arrived.
    I’ve only just moved to London.
    People were leaving and I’d only just arrived.

as long ago as … = as early as … 

As long ago as the fourteenth century, an Englishman, Sir John Hawkwood, made the remarkable discovery that people would rather pay large sums of money than have their life work destroyed by gangsters.

adj. modern, modern-day, present-day, today’s, … of today, contemporary

  • Modern alpinists try to climb mountains by a route which will give them good sport. 

It took me over half an hour to get rid of him.

I took just ten minutes to solve that problem.

He always takes so long to eat his breakfast.

I went on an excursion recently, but my trip took me longer than I expected.

I argued that if I spent less time exhausting myself at exercises in the morning I would keep my mind fresh for reading when I got home from work.

ever since

  • The big clock which used to strike the hours was damaged many years ago and have been silent ever since. 
  • There are countless people who, ever since their early years, have learned to associate snails with food.
    You know how she feels about you. It’s been the same way ever since we were kids.

the moment her hands were wet. 

  • the moment (that) sb. does sth. = as soon as someone does something
  • It was also found that although Vera could perceive things with her fingers, the ability ceased the moment her hands were wet.
  • He said he’d phone you the moment he got home. 
  • From the moment on (=after that time) we were the best friends. 
  • at that moment, everything stopped. 

It will be a long time before we meet again.
I hadn’t waited long before he came.

  • On the other hand, your stomach would turn at the idea of frying potatoes in animal fat—the normally accepted practice in many northern countries.
  • Most of my friends live in the city, yet they always go into raptures at the mere mention of the country.

    It is true that during their explorations they often faced difficulties and dangers of the most perilous nature, equipped in a manner which would make a modern climber shudder at the thought, but they did not go out of their way to court such excitement.

    She screamed at the sight of the ghost.
    She trembled at the thought of the murder.
    She fainted at the news of her father ’s death.
    She wept at the mention of the accident.