posted by zjv5002 on May 26, 2012 | 3 comments
I just chanced upon a friend's Weibo post that reads:

"我小时候家,大连这样的建筑街景随处可见,现在,只是存在于记忆中!"

accompanied with a picture of, you guessed it, a collection of crumbling shops soon to be 拆ed off.

My question, however, concerns 于. In the above sentence, 于 looks to function as "in"; "when I was a kid you could see this kind of architecture anywhere on the street in Dalian, but now it exists only in memory." Pleco lists 于 as alternately "in", "at", "to", "from", "out of", and "by".

What are some of the most common ways to employ 于 in speech? writing? I've studied more than 18 months and never found reason to learn how to use 于 despite it apparently carrying the strength of every preposition in the English language. Have I blundered, or is 于 rarely found in the wild?
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Echo on May 28, 2012 | reply
@zjv5002,

于 is a preposition. One usage is almost the same as 在, but more formal and a lot older. It's usually used in chengyu or old set phrase, like 生于中国 (born in China). That's why you don't often see it in the daily life.

Other common usages of 于 are: a) towards, like 求救于人 (asking help from people); b) to, like 献身于科学 (dedicate oneself to science); c) from, like 青出于蓝 (the disciple outdoes the master; d) this last one is the most useful in modern times: to compare, like 大于,高于 (bigger, higher).

--Echo

echo@popupchinese.com
zjv5002 on May 28, 2012 | reply
Thanks Echo! Expert analysis as always!
zhujunqiang.2007 on May 30, 2012 | reply
“于”一般是书面语啦~相当于 “在”

“就像你上面那句“"我小时候家,大连这样的建筑街景随处可见,现在,只是存在于记忆中!"一般写作文的时候才这么写的.