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Use of 了 and 过


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please help me.


The usage of 了 and 过 always makes me confuse. I sill can't get the structure/pattern and the difference meanings they make. So, these are five sentences of 了 and 过,I use same verb and object so it will be easier to understand the difference.








Are these sentences right? or is there wrong sentence? And what is the difference of each sentences?



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The uses of 过 and particularly 了 are confusing even for advanced learners. The problem with 了 is that there are so many factors that influence its use that it is not always clear why 了 is used or not used in every situation. Having said that, there are some basic rules that will cover most situations.


过 expresses the experience of having performed an action, usually rendered as the perfect tense in English.


A: 你去过中国吗?Have you been to China?

B: 没去过。No, (I) haven't been.


A: 你吃过饭吗?Have you eaten?

B: 我刚吃。I just ate.


了 has two basic usages:


1. Placed after a verb or verbal phrase, it signifies completion of the action. This is usually rendered as the simple past (for past actions) or present perfect (for future actions) in English.


A: 你买了书吗? Did you buy a/some book(s)?

B: 其实我买了三本。 Actually I bought three.


A: 你吃饭了没? Did you eat or not?

B: 还没呢。 Not yet.


你到了家我就给你。 I'll give it to you when you've arrived at home (/when you get home).


2. Placed at the end of a sentence to signify new information which often refers to a change of state.


我再也不去了。 I'll never go again. (I have been/I used to go, but the new situation is that I am not going any more.)


In some sentences, it is not clear whether the 了 falls into the 1st or 2nd usage (and the distinction may not even be important).


他吃饭了。He ate. (This is the same as 他吃了饭, but 吃饭 is treated as a single verb phrase, so the 了 is placed after it.) / He has started eating (change of state - maybe he hadn't been eating before).


Now you can just combine these uses of 过 and 了.


他去过中国。 He has been to China.

他去了中国。 He went to China.

他去过中国了。 He has (finally) been to China (and this is a new state).

他去了中国了。 He (finally) went to China (and this is a new state).


Note, however, that language is flexible, and basic rules can only account for the most common usages of language. What people say and what they mean can vary from context to context and even region to region, so the above analysis is by no means exhaustive.

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EDIT: Looks like I got ninja'd by anonymoose ?




While you're waiting for some constructive replies, the least I can do to get you started is take a look at these links on the Grammar Wiki.


Using '过' to express past experiences

Using '了' to express completion of an action


There's a lot of information you can get besides the two I linked here on Grammar Wiki. I don't feel confident giving advice on the finer details of grammar, so hope this will do until someone more qualified comes along. :)

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My likely very incomplete answer...


~嗎/沒有 at the end of the question can be treated as basically the same, with ~沒有being a more colloquial/regional usage.


Regarding le/guo, the problem (as if often the case in Chinese) is that they are highly context dependent. Theoretically, your sentences all seem correct, but are used in different contexts or with different nuance,


So ignoring the ma/meiyou distinction, you have:


1) 你買過東西嗎?

2) 你買過東西了嗎?



And there is also: 4) 你買了東西(了)嗎?


1) would ordinarily be understood as ''Have you ever bought anything?"

2)   emphasises the action of ''buying" and the le gives the sentence ''current relevance" , so it could mean something along the lines of "Have you bought anything (yet)?

今天你買過東西了嗎? appears in search results, "Have you been shopping today (yet/already)?"

3)   is simply "Did you buy anything?"


4)Verb-le-Object usually emphasises a specific object, so with 東西 as the object, I imagine it sounds a bit odd as ''things" are quite unspecified. However, 你買了手機嗎? would sound OK "Did you buy a phone?" and 你買了手機了嗎? is similar, but emphasises the current relevance of the question.


Another example would be:


你剛到哪裡去了? Where did you just go?

我剛去(了)圖書館 (了) I went to the library


But if someone suggests "Why don't you go to the library?" and you have just been there, you might say:


我剛去過圖書館(了) as guo emphasises the action of ''going" and the final le emphasises the current, resulting state.


This is my understanding at least, somebody more knowledgable might like to further clarify!




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