Intermediate: particle le (了)

Uses of the chinese particle le 了

 

1. completion of an action

The chinese particle le (了) is used after a verb to indicate the completion of an action.
“了”只表示动作的完成。这个动作可以是过去时态,也可以是将来时态。

In the next two examples we find le (了) after the verb, indicating that the action is completed: first case, the food has already been ordered; second case, we watched the movie.
这里在动词后面加上”了”,意思是这个动作已经做了。第一句,说明已经点了菜了。第二句,说明已经看了电影了。

  1.  What drink did you order?
  2. We ordered coffee and tea
  1. nǐ men diǎn le shén me yǐn liào?
  2. wǒ men diǎn le kā fēi hé chá
  1. 你们点了什么饮料?
  2. 我们点了咖啡和茶。
  1.  What movie did you watch yesterday?
  2. We watched a science-fiction movie
  1. nǐ men zuó tiān kàn le shén me diàn yǐng?
  2. wǒ men zuó tiān kàn le yī bù kē huàn piàn
  1.  你们昨天看了什么电影?
  2. 我们昨天看了一部科幻片。

 

On the following two sentences, we dont use le (了) after the verbs, which mean the action is not completed yet. First one, indicates they are about to order food. The second one means we haven’t watched the movie yet.
这里动词后面没有加”了”,说明这个动作还没有做。第一句,指的是还没有吃。第二句,意思是还没有看。

  1. What drink would you like to order?
  2. Coffee and tea
  1. ǐ men diǎn shén me yǐn liào?
  2. kā fēi hé chá
  1. 你们点什么饮料?
  2. 咖啡和茶。
  1. What movie would you like to watch?
  2. We would like to watch a science-fiction movie
  1. nǐ men kàn shén me diàn yǐng?
  2. wǒ men xiǎng kàn yī bù kē huàn piàn
  1. 你们看什么电影
  2.  我们想看一部科幻片。

 

Other examples for uses of  le (了)

Did you invite them to the wedding? nǐ qǐng le tā men lái cān jiā hūn lǐ ma?  你请了他们来参加婚礼吗?
Did he read your letter?  tā kàn le nǐ gěi tā xiě de xìn ma?  他看了你给他写的信吗?
Did you guys go to the park yesterday?  nǐ men zuó tiān qù le gōng yuán ma?  你们昨天去了公园吗?
Did they go back home last week?  shàng zhōu tā men huí le jiā ma?  上周他们回了家吗?

 

2. Negative Form

When le (了) indicates the completion of an action, like we explained above, the negative form of it is “mei you/mei + verb”;which means the negative form for past tense is “mei you/mei + verb”.We don’t use “bu + verb” to indicate “didn’t + verb”.
当”了”的意思如上所述表示动作完成的时候,否定形式为”没有/没”+ 动词。这个否定形式我们用了表示过去没有做某事。所以在否定过去的一个动作的时候,我们不用”不+动词”

We didn’t order wǒ men méi yǒu diǎn cài 我们没有点菜。
They didn’t go to watch movie yesterday tā men zuó tiān méi yǒu qù kàn diàn yǐng 他们昨天没有去看电影。
I didn’t invite them to the wedding wǒ méi yǒu yāo qǐng tā men lái cān jiā hūn lǐ 我没有邀请他们来参加婚礼。
He didn’t read my letter  tā méi yǒu kàn wǒ xiě gěi tā de xìn 他没有看我写给他的信。
They didn’t go to the park yesterday  tā men zuó tiān méi yǒu qù gōng yuán 他们昨天没有去公园。
They didn’t go back home last week  shàng zhōu tā men méi yǒu huí jiā 上周他们没有回家。

 

3. Past and future

The chinese particle  le (了) only indicates the completion of an action. The action can be done in the past, or will be done in the future.
“了”只表示动作的完成。这个动作可以是过去时态,也可以是将来时态。

Examples of action completed in the past
表示过去时态的动作的完成。

I bought a new nap-top the day before yesterday qián tiān wǒ mǎi le yī tái xīn bǐ jì běn diàn nǎo 前天我买了一台新笔记本电脑
I went to Washington, the capital of US, last month  shàng gè yuè wǒ qù le měi guó de shǒu dū huá shèng dùn 上个月我去了美国的首都华盛顿。
 Last year, my elder sister had a beautiful girl qù nián wǒ jiě jiě shēng le yī gè piāo liàng de nǚ ér 去年我姐姐生了一个漂亮的女儿。
He called me this morning zǎo shàng tā gěi wǒ dǎ le yī gè diàn huà 早上他给我打了一个电话。
We just had a meeting with the manager gāng cái wǒ men hé jīng lǐ kāi le yī gè huì 刚才我们和经理开了一个会。

Expaples for actions that will be done in the future
表示将来时态的动作的完成

We are going to watch movie after finishing the dinner tomorrow míng tiān wǎn shàng chī le fàn yǐ hòu,wǒ men yào qù kàn diàn yǐng 明天晚上吃了饭以后,我们要去看电影。
I’ll go home to do homework after the class in the afternoon xià wǔ xià le kè zhī hòu,wǒ yào huí jiā zuò zuò yè 下午下了课之后,我要回家做作业。
Let’s drink a coffee after this movie wǒ men kàn wán le zhè gè diàn yǐng zhī hòu,qù hē kā fēi ba 我们看完了这个电影之后,去喝咖啡吧。
They will go to work when they come back from honeymoon tā men xià gè yuè dù le mì yuè huí lái zhī hòu,jiù yào qù gōng zuò le 他们下个月度了蜜月回来之后,就要去工作了。
After calling her, let me know nǐ gěi tā dǎ le diàn huà yǐ hòu gěi wǒ shuō yī shēng 你给她打了电话以后给我说一声。

 

4. Estructure qu + place + le

In a sentence with the structure verb qu 去 + place + verb, the aspect particle “le” is used after the second verb.
在”去 + 地点 + 动词”的句子中,动态助词”了”放在第二个动词的后面。

Yesterday he went to supermarket to buy a duck zuó tiān tā qù chāo shì mǎi le yī zhī yā zǐ  昨天他去超市买了一只鸭子。
This afternoon I went to hospital to see a doctor xià wǔ wǒ qù yī yuàn kàn le bìng  下午我去医院看了病。
The day before yesterday they went to a theatre to watch opera  qián tiān tā men qù jù yuàn kàn le gē jù 前天他们去剧院看了歌剧。
Last month they went to France for honeymoon shàng gè yuè tā men qù fǎ guó dù le mì yuè 上个月他们去法国度了蜜月。
This morning I went to school to have Spanish class  zǎo shàng wǒ qù xué xiào shàng le xī bān yá yǔ kè 早上我去学校上了西班牙语课。