In Chinese, we use the phrase 明天 to refer to ‘tomorrow’; another interchangeable phrase for ‘tomorrow’ is 明日 (ming2 ri4).
明天 ＝ 明 (bright) + 天 (day) = [literally] (bright day); (tomorrow)
In different contexts, 天 can have different meanings such as sky, heaven, god, nature, weather, and day. When 天 means day, it has the same meaning as 日 (the sun), which we’ve already learned.
Chinese people write every single day as 天天 or 日日.
A side note: For anyone with English as a second language, do you know the difference between ‘everyday’ and ‘every day’? ‘Everyday’ is used as an adjective that describes something that happens or is used every day (or regularly). The phrase ‘every day’ also describes something that happens each day, but it’s more precise than ‘everyday’. For example, you could write ‘every third day…’, or ‘every day I read the paper’. This is much more specific than ‘everyday’, which you might use to say something like, ‘work is an everyday grind’, or ‘that’s his everyday outfit’.
That may be a little confusing, but fortunately the Chinese phrase 天天 can be used both ways. Sometimes Chinese is much easier than English!
By the way, there’s one popular Chinese pop song called 天天想你 (tian1 tian1 xiang3 ni3; miss you every day). It’s sung by Zhang Yusheng (張雨生). Check it out and see if you can recognise the phrase 天天 from the Chinese subtitles in the music video here: bit.ly/1uuz5rO!
Pinyin: tian1 tian1
(Traditional, Simplified and Kanji)
P.S. So how do you know if the phrase 天天 is being used as an adjective or an adverb in a Chinese sentence? It’s actually pretty easy! If 天天 is followed by a noun, e.g. 聖誕節 (shen4 dan4 jie2; Christmas), it’s just like ‘everyday’. On the other hand, if 天天 is followed by a verb, e.g. 回家 (hui2 jia1; go home), it’s like ‘every day’. Got it?