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Hagai

Double 了 ideally required

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Hagai

If I want to use 太... 了 sentence, but to describe a past action, how can a listener determine whether I'm talking about the past or present? 

"The shoes I bought were too big" = 我买的鞋太大了

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歐博思

Can this sentence even logically be in the present? The shoes have already been bought.

 

我買的鞋: If you haven't bought them, how can you describe it with 的?

我要買的鞋:"The shoes I'm going to buy, ...." The 要 sets it off as "yet to happen". It doesn't matter about the 的 here.

 

But really don't get too caught up on the 的 here. It's really about the 要  'going to'. Either you're going to buy some shoes in the future, in which case it would be weird to describe them as being "too big," or there is no 要 and you're talking about the past. 

 

I suppose you might want to say:

我正在買鞋子

我正在買鞋,我要不要在鞋店旁邊的小餐廳買點吃的帶回家嘛? "I'm buying some shoes right now. Should I bring home some food from the restaurant next door?"

 

But once again the part about the shoes being too big doesn't match with the sentence in this time.

 

Also, it might help to think of 了 in 太...了 as a fixed pattern for adjectives instead of past tense. And you might already know that adjectives don't really conjugate into past tense with 了

*昨天天氣很冷了 'The weather was cold yesterday'

昨天天氣很冷 'The weather was cold yesterday' - no 了 needed.

 

Did I mention I hate big shoes.

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anonymoose
On 5/24/2020 at 8:16 PM, Hagai said:

If I want to use 太... 了 sentence, but to describe a past action, how can a listener determine whether I'm talking about the past or present? 

"The shoes I bought were too big" = 我买的鞋太大了

 

These are two completely different things. In your sentence, you are describing the shoes, and not talking about an action.

 

Logically (although incorrect in Chinese), if you wanted to change "buy" into "bought", then the 了 should come after 买, so 我买了的鞋子太大了. However, it is incorrect to say this, and unnecessary, as it would be clear from the context that the shoes have been bought, and in Chinese, 了 is not added to attributives like this.

 

Having said that, yes, there is some ambiguity - the sentence could be interpreted as "The shoes I buy are too big", but all languages have ambiguities, which are usually cleared up by context.

 

Consider in English, for example, saying, "I'm buying a red car". How do you know whether I'm currently in the car showroom in the process of making the purchase, or just talking about my future intention? In the absence of context, you don't.

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道艺黄帝

hint: Chinese doesn't have past tense

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If_IwasaLinguist

I agree with the above posts saying there is an ambiguity in the example sentence. 

 

Although Chinese doesn't have morpholigical tense markers (regular -ed or irregular sing -  song), we do have adverbials (time adverbials) or participles (了/过) to mark the tense. However, the example sentence contains only one participle 了, which indicates the degree of the front adjective 大 instead of marking the past tense. Therefore, this example doesn't have a clear tense marker so that the listener will not know when the action of buying shoes happen(s/ed). However, based on my language sense, I intuitively interpret this action happened in the past maybe because the verb 买 semantically means the state change of something. Then, when you use this verb without any other tense marker like 正在, the listener will understand that action has happened before you say it. 

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