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How to use the past tense in chinese? Can I use the 了all the time? I hope you can help me here, and give me some examples. Thank you so much!
Jun 29, 2015 10:57 PM
Answers · 5
The answer is no. Actually "了" doesn't mean past tense, it has a lot of usages but not the past tense. The real past tense here is "过" guò Verb+过 e.g. 我去过北京。Wǒ qù guo Běijīng. 我没吃过烤鸭。Wǒ méi chī guo kǎoyā. 你学过汉语吗?Nǐ xué guo Hànyǔ ma ? Hope this will be helpful. Li Ying
June 30, 2015
了 does not equal to past tense in all cases, many native English speakers will be influenced by habitual thinkings of their mother tongue and make incorrect sentences. You'll be surprised to learn that, in effect, Chinese has no past tense grammar, "了" is just a modal particle indicating time sequences or conditions. But that goes too far away. Let's just talk about two most basic usages of 了, for now. 1.Indicating completion. In this usage 了 is used in construction VERB+了. It implies a completion of an action. e.g. 我吃了一个苹果 - I ate an apple. When two or more verbs show up at the same time, put 了 behind the last one. e.g. 我起床刷了牙 - I got up and brushed my teeth. And when the sentence is in negative form which contains the character “没”, do remember that “了” mustn't be applied. e.g. “你没擦了黑板” is a wrong sentence. 2.Indicating consequence. In this usage 了 is placed behind the whole sentence. It indicates the consequence caused by a previous incident. 他觉得不舒服,不能来上班了 - He feels uncomfortable and can't come to work. 了 implies the consequence caused by a previous incident - Because he feels uncomfortable(cause), so he can't come to work(result). And occasions in which 了 can't be used: 1.sustainable verb. e.g. 他前几天一直在复习了功课 - WRONG. Correction: 他前几天一直在复习功课。 2.psychological movement e.g. 小王刚刚就在盼望了回家 - WRONG. Correction: 小王刚刚就在盼望着回家。 3.modal verb e.g. 你昨天应该完成它了 - WRONG. Correction: 你昨天应该完成它(You should finish it yesterday)。 4.periodical action e.g. 他们去年每周都去看了电影 - WRONG. Correction: 他们去年每周都去看电影 speech & narration 老师昨天说了:“记得做作业” - WRONG. 了 mustn't be applied after the verb "say" in a direct speech. Correction: 老师昨天说:“记得做作业” 老师昨天说(了)记得做作业。 RIGHT. 了 is optional here. And you can look at this webpage for more advanced usages:
June 30, 2015
Language Skills
Chinese (Mandarin), English, Portuguese, Spanish
Learning Language