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xuechengfeng

Grammar #4: 了

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Altair

As I think about it, "I sat at the table and put my purse/wallet and keys down" is probably not meant as a clear sequence of two actions, but rather as two things that happen at the same time. In other words, the meaning is "As I sat at the table, I put my purse/wallet and keys down. In this case, it might be better not to put 了 after 上. I think this also weakens the case for putting the sentence 了 at the end. There is less reason to cast this as a series of events summing up a scene, which would be the function of the final 了 in this case.

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Ferno
But it can also refer to the future as in if you wanted to say "after you find out, let me know". Same as in Chinese, "ni faxian le yihou, jiu rang wo zhidao".

"le" being used for future too? :shock: i'm never going to understand this particle :-?

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L-F-J

Hey, don't make me second guess my Chinese! lol It's like "after you find out" and "after you have found out". My bad. :) The point is the the "rang wo zhidao" part.... :mrgreen:

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HashiriKata
"ni faxian le yihou, jiu rang wo zhidao".
The le here has nothing to do the future, it's required here because the action associated with it has to occurred/ be completed (faxian) before another action (rang wo zhidao).

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L-F-J

Yes, but it hasn't happened.

"Ni faxian yihou, jiu rang wo zhidao" would mean "after you find out, let me know".. while "ni faxian le yihou, jiu rang wo zhidao" would mean "after you've found out, let me know".

They both seem to make sense in English. I wonder if it's the same in Chinese. Hmm, a chance to learn something off my own sentences.... :twisted:

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roddy

Take a look at the discussion in for a lot of good info.

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HashiriKata
Yes, but it hasn't happened.

It shouldn't necessarily be the real time but is a kind of "relative time": an action occurs BEFORE another action, regardless whether these action have happened or will happen:

Try translating the following into correct Chinese (don't go without le! :mrgreen: ):

"Tomorrow I'll see her AFTER (attending) the lecture."

"I'll go to China AFTER I graduate next summer."

PS: By the way, I think you need le for the following sentence:

"Ni faxian yihou, jiu rang wo zhidao"

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L-F-J

Right, so it seems "ni faxian le yihou, jiu rang wo zhidao" is correct translation for "after you find out, let me know". But is there a difference with "after you find out" and "after you have found out" in Chinese? What meaning has it been changed to if I say "ni faxian yihou, jiu rang wo zhidao"?

Roddy thanks for the link! 8)

Let's not let this one stray from the point I was trying to make about this topic. If it's depending on the future time then that's the intent, to tell me later. But we can say let me know or rang wo zhidao right now, meaning tell me now.

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HashiriKata
But is there a difference with "after you find out" and "after you have found out" in Chinese?
I don't think so (see my PS in my above post). Although on the surface, we seem to have 2 versions in English but you have to think: What do those 2 versions actually mean? They mean exactly the same thing! :mrgreen:

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L-F-J

I got the idea that "after you find out" sounds more future than "after you have found out"... or something. I don't know. :P

"Ni faxian yihou, jiu rang wo zhidao" sounds like a statement. After you find out, you let me know.. This is what you do.

"Ni faxian le yihou, jiu rang wo zhidao" sounds like a suggestion. After you have found out, let me know.

This is just from the sound of it. :)

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HashiriKata
I got the idea that "after you find out" sounds more future than "after you have found out"... or something. I don't know. :P
That would be correct if "after you find out" and "after you have found out" are complete and independent sentences. They're however only parts of larger sentences in our discussion; and in this case, there's no difference in meaning whichever version you'd choose:

"after you find out, please let me know" = "after you have found out, please let me know"

Anyway, I think I've said what I needed to and only hope it'd be of some help :mrgreen:

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tian-na!

hey, i know this is probably a newbish question, but i'm a bit confused on how to use the particle 了. I've been told that it is for showing that you did something in the past, but i've heard other uses. An example is when my friend in beijing said it was going to have lunch. she used 了 at the end of the sentence which confused me a bit. i'm sure lots of people here can answer this :)

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goldie

In addition to the excellent analysis provided above by linguists and others, it seems to me that some very basic things are missing.

Chinese verbs are not always verbs in English and the importance of this is that it affects when and how you use 了le.

1. Action verbs such as 去qu, 吃chi, 看kan, 聽ting, 買mai, etc. take the Verb+le to indicate that something has been done or completed. Action verbs take the negative 'mei(you)' in the past and drop the 'le'.

According to my grammar book, if the object following the verbs is only one syllable, it's normal for the 'le' to come after the object. This is why you can say "我吃飯了- wo chi fan le", whereas if you have eaten a lot, you would put the 'le' straight after the 'chi' 我吃了很多飯.

2. Stative verbs, or verbs that describe a state of being, otherwise known as adjectival verbs (like 'hao' as in 'wo hen hao'. or ''e' 我很餓- wo hen e) are usually not verbs in English. Statives also include non-adjectival verbs (eg. 喜歡xihuan,想念xiang nian, 懂dong). Stative verbs do not take the Verb+le. They only take the Sentence 'le'. Other verbs that follow this rule are '是shi, 有you, and 在zai'.

For example, if you say

我餓了- wo e le, this doesn't mean that you were hungry, it means that you have become hungry.

So, when you want to say with stative verbs that you felt a certain way in the past, you use time phrases and not 'le'. Another thing I noticed in some posts in here was the use of 'mei (you)' to negate things in the past with stative verbs. As far as I know, this is incorrect. To negate stative verbs in the past, you use 'bu', as well as a time phrase.

我昨天不餓.

Of course, there are other exceptions or rules to the simple ones I've outlined, but I hope they are worthy of being included in this sticky! :wink:

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anonymoose

A chinese native speaker told me that in the sentence 我刚刚起床 the particle 了 should not be used. Please could someone explain to me the reasoning behind this? :conf

As far as I can see, it not only fulfills the criterion of having a completed action in the past, but also indicates a kind of change/emergence of a new state, so I would have thought that 了 should appear at least someone in the sentence. :help

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HashiriKata
Please could someone explain to me the reasoning behind this?
The ideas behind 刚刚 and 了 are in fact in conflict here: 刚刚 implies "just/ barely/ not enough (for some purpose)" whereas 了 implies "already enough/ plenty/ too much/ too long (for some purpose)". Consider:

我来北京刚刚两年。>< 我来北京已经两年了。

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goldie
"The ideas behind 刚刚 and 了 are in fact in conflict here: 刚刚 implies "just/ barely/ not enough (for some purpose)" whereas 了 implies "already enough/ plenty/ too much/ too long (for some purpose)".

In that case, why can you say 他刚刚走了? is that because it imparting new information to someone?

It may be grammatical a bit peculiar to say 我刚刚起床了, but I don't thing it's thaaaat bad. you might want to say instead '我刚刚起床呢' :wink:

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HashiriKata

Goldie, "for some purpose", as in my post, is crucial here:

"As I just (刚) got up, (my hair's therefore still in a mess )"

"As I'm already up (了), (let me do it for you)"

Take my earlier examples:

我来北京刚刚两年, (too short) so I don't know many things.

我来北京已经两年了, (long enough) I've therefore got to know many things.

On the other hand, 他刚刚走了 does not involve any implication on another action. Another way to look at it is: "走了" = "is gone/ has gone". If 刚刚 is added, it then just means "is just gone/ has just gone", and there's no semantic conflict/ contradiction anywhere.

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anonymoose

HashiriKata, I think I see what you're driving at here.

However, I don't understand what you mean by

他刚刚走了 does not involve any implication on another action

How is 走了 different from 起床了?

You had this example:

"As I just (刚) got up, (my hair's therefore still in a mess )"

without 了.

So what about 走了? Couldn't this also involve implication on another state, eg:

As he has just gone, (the seat is therefore still warm)

?

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HashiriKata
How is 走 了 different from 起床了?

This is a very interesting question, anonymoose, but I'm not sure if I can manage to provide a good enough answer (without first giving a lecture in semantic theory! :mrgreen: ) :

起床 in itself means "to get up", the 了 that follows it only gives it a bit of aspectual information and does not alter its basic meaning.

On the other hand, 走 means "to walk" but with the 了 added, 走了 means something quite different from 走, it means "to be gone/ to have gone", so 走了 here is one semantic unit.

You can add 刚刚 to this semantic unit "走了" without any problem (Therefore, your example: As he has just gone, the seat is therefore still warm); whereas 刚刚 is the opposite of 了 if it is added to the semantic unit "起床", and only one or the other can be added to this semantic unit "起床".

:D

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semantic nuance
A chinese native speaker told me that in the sentence 我刚刚起床 the particle 了 should not be used.

Not exactly! I think with or without 了depends on the contexts.

Ex1:

A: 你怎麼還很睏的樣子啊? Why do you still look so sleepy?

B: 我剛剛起床. (所以還很睏的樣子) I got up just now.(so I still look sleepy.)

Edit: Ex2 (On the Phone)

A: 你怎麼還很睏的樣子啊? 你到底起床了沒啊 ?

Why do you still sound so sleepy? Are you up yet?

B: 我剛剛起床了!! (不要一直囉唆!)

I've already gotten up (minutes before). (Stop nagging!)

Could you tell the difference now?

Hope it helps!:)

Edit: I've corrected the wrong verb after reading anonymoose's questioning. I must have been kind of dozy at midnight so I pasted the whole sentence without thinking clear.:oops:

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