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了 “let your sentences reach a higher level



‘了’(le)is one of three vital auxiliary words in Chinese, all of which are widely used in oral or written Chinese to express grammatical features instead of using a change of word form as with English. Because of this difference, we find that foreign learners often make mistakes in knowing when and where to use ‘了’(le).  Its usage is really complex, so here we will just tackle the basic usage of ‘了’.

1.‘了1’ indicates the completion and achievement of an action being used tightly behind the verb.

1)  Wǒ qù kàn le nà bù diànyǐnɡ.

     我去看了那部电影。

     I have seen that movie.


2)  Tā mǎi le yíbù xīn shǒujī.

     他买了一部新手机。

     He has bought a new mobile phone.


Its negative form consists of putting ‘没有’/ ‘没’ before verb and leave out ‘了’.

 1)  Tā méiyǒu qù ɡōnɡyuán.

     他没有去公园。

     He hasn’t gone to the park.


2)  Mèimei méi mǎi nà tiáo qúnzi.

     妹妹没买那条裙子。

     Younger sister hasn’t bought that skirt.


2. ‘了2’ functions as a modal particle


(a) It can be placed at the end of a sentence;

(b) It can be used to indicate that something has happened or has occurred;

(c) It can be used to show or confirm a certain fact;

(d) There usually is a time word in the sentence; if not, the sentence will indicate that something happened or occurred just now.


1)  Zhōumò tā qù ɡuànɡjiē le.

     周末他去逛街了。

     He went shopping this weekend.


2)  Xiàzhōusān xià le kè,wǒ bǎ shū ɡěinǐ.

     下周三下了课,我把书给你。

      Next Wednesday, I’ll give you the book.

 

3)  Wǒ ɡānɡɡānɡ fāxiàn wǒ de diànnǎo bèi tōu le.

     我刚刚发现我的电脑被偷了。

     I discovered that my computer has been stolen just now.

 

4)  Shànɡkè le,shànɡkè le.

     上课了,上课了。

     Class begins, class begins.


Its negative form consists of putting ‘没有’/ ‘没’ before the verb and at the same time leave out ‘了’.

1)  Shànɡkè le。→ Méi shànɡkè.

     上课了。→没上课。

     Class begins.→ Class doesn’t begin.


2)  Zuótiān wǒ de zìxínɡchē huài le.→Zuótiān wǒ de zìxínɡchēméi huài.

     昨天我的自行车坏了。→昨天我的自行车没坏。

     My bike broke yesterday.→ My bike did not break yesterday.


3)  Nǐ chīfàn le mɑ? Méi chī.

     你吃饭了吗?—没吃。

     —Did you eat already/Have you eaten?

     —Did not eat yet/Haven’t eaten yet.


3. ‘了1+2’ as a modal particle indicates a change, or in other words, something new has occurred, which is also put at the end of the sentence.

 1)  Xiàxuě le.

     下雪了。

     It’s snowy.

     (Change of weather. It wasn’t snowy before, but now it is.)


2)  Wǒ bùchī le.

     我不吃了。

     I don’t want to eat.

     (Change of attitude. I said I wanted to eat, but now I don’t want to eat.)


3)  Wǔdiǎn le.

    五点了。

     It’s 5 o’clock.

     (Change of time)


4. Using ‘了’ at the end of a sentence and after the verb to show that something has happened and there is a completion of the action.

1)  Tā qù le yīyuàn le.

     他去了医院了。

     He has gone to the hospital.


2)  Wǒ chànɡ le yìshǒuɡē le.

     我唱了一首歌了。

     I have sung a song.


Its negative form uses ‘没有’/ ‘没’ before the verb, and leaves out ‘了’. If there is a numerical word, it is usually left out also.

1)  Tā méiqù yīyuàn.

     他没去医院。

     He hasn’t gone to the hospital.


2)  Wǒ méi chànɡɡē.

     我没唱歌。

     I haven’t sung.

Source:Dig Mandarin

2017-03-31

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