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xuechengfeng

Grammar #4: 了

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pprendeville

Quote "Sentence 了: occurs at the end of a sentence; a modal particle that usually indicates a new state exists. Unlike the verb 了, it generally introduces a relevant situation rather than state an objective fact."

Does the sentence 我也想搬到外面去了 equate to the above, i.e. a change in circumstance (the person moving into a new place) hence the 了 at the end?

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li3wei1

I'd say the new situation is that the speaker has decided what he wants to do. The 了 refers to 想 rather than 搬.

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kvetch

I'm having some trouble with this sentence

他 已经 三天没 洗澡 

 

A previous teacher taught us that you don‘t use 了for a negative sentence, because the action hasn't been completed. Which made sense to me。

Is 了 used here only because the sentence includes a time duration?

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li3wei1

I'd say it's a typical end-of-sentence 了, indicating a current situation that has been continuing for a specified period of time. In this case, it doesn't matter whether it's a positive or negative statement. When you're using the completed-action 了, you don't use it if the action hasn't been completed.

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kvetch

Is the 了not needed in this sentence then? Seeing as we can infer that he still hasn't washed from the use of yijing?

In that case, how would you state that he hadn't washed for 3 days but has now washed

他以前三天没洗找 ?Or would 他三天没洗找 convey the same meaning?

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anonymoose

了 signifies emergence of a new situation. Here, it being 3 days (and no longer just 2 days or 1 day) is a new situation, hence the use of 了.

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歐博思

我把十块的票子看成了五块的。

I mistook the ten-yuan bill for a five-yuan one.

Here, this event is presented as something isolated, with no clear relationship to anything else unless some kind of follow up is added. With了 at the end of the sentence, however, we would know that the old state of affairs was over and a new one had started. The effects or importance of the mistake would be left lingering in the air for the listener to imagine.

 

Similarly, 那小女孩把長鬍子的老先生看成是她爺爺了 leaves the implications of the new relationship lingering in the air.

If you say 那小女孩把長鬍子的老先生看成了她爺爺, this sounds more like: "That girl mistook that long-bearded gentleman for her grandfather." This is an isolated event with no implied aftereffects.

In "我把十块的票子看成了五块的", the 了 is non-final and leaves something lingering for us to imagine, while "那小女孩把長鬍子的老先生看成了她爺爺" does not. The second sentence being a non-final 了 like the first sentence, I figured that it'd have the tendency to lead to something else after as well?

 

BTW many thanks to Altair for your beastly posts in this thread.

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陳德聰

In "我把十块的票子看成了五块的", the 了 is non-final and leaves something lingering for us to imagine, while "那小女孩把長鬍子的老先生看成了她爺爺" does not. The second sentence being a non-final 了 like the first sentence, I figured that it'd have the tendency to lead to something else after as well?

I don't think the bolded portion is what was being said.

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coobit

Sorry to interfere but has anyone of you read Linda H. Liu's article  about chinese being modal driven language as some other languages which do not ever mark time but instead mark reality/irreality of the situation? 

 

She elaborates on Chinese having two main moods realis(what is real or took/taking/will take place) and irrelais (habitual, order, whishing and ect). Real states and actions are marked by 了.

So 了 is not a tense marker, not an aspect marker, not a perfective marker but it is a reality (or 100% Certaintiness if we speek about future) marker.

Without 了 verbs or whole sentences posess habitual reading. 

 

 我吃了飯. - It is not "I ate" or even "Have eaten".

The proper translation would be: "The process of me eating (took,has it's,will take) place in reality". It is all 3 tenses combined and all of that is made possible just by 了.

  • Now, some natives will see this sentence as unfinished in that case they might be "reading" future tense here as in "After I eat (finish or not do not metter), I will go". ( 我吃了飯就走). Why了 is translated as "after"? Becausein this sence 了 marks that "once the eating took place or became real" I will do something. Once it become real = After
  • Some natives will feel that the sentece is quite alright thus they "see" different aspect of "reality" of this situation. They see "I ate and it is real" translation (or "The eating took place indeed" notice there is no information about perfectivity of eating that's why I use "eating took place" translation) .
  •  我吃了飯 - has nothing to do with "completing or finishing the food." 完 - marks perfectivity as in 我吃完了飯.

 

If we drop  了 from the sentence, we obtain a whole different set of possible translations:

我吃飯 - I usually eat

我吃飯 - I will eat.

我吃飯 - I eat

all those readings without reality marker 了 are in irrealis mode, habitual, future wishfull thinking, ect.

 

Someone asked: 

if 了is used as an indicator of a finished action, then why do some native speakers say '我走了‘ BEFORE they exit at a meeting. 

'我走- I walk. but '我走了 - "I walk indeed" or "I walk for real". That's a phrase from a man who is determined to realize the "walking" right now. You could translate it "I walk (out) NOW!!!" which does not contradict realization marker 

 

 

This is the only theory of 了 which makes sence to me. Would like to hear your thoughts about her theory. Thanks.

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