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Level 1 Lesson 26.1 – He Has Gone To The School

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Modal Particle le 了 in Chinese | Zero-Subject Sentence in Chinese 无主句

In this video lesson we'll learn how to use Modal Particle le 了 in Chinese to suggest a "new situation" and we'll also learn about Zero-Subject Sentence in Chinese 无主句 Wúzhǔjù.

  • Modal Particle le 了 in Chinese - 了2 (See also Dynamic / Aspect Particle 了 in Chinese - 了1 in Level 2  Lesson 16)
  • Zero-Subject Sentence in Chinese 无主句 Wúzhǔjù
  • To rain and to snow in Chinese: 下雨, 下雪
  • Minute in Chinese: 分 vs 分钟

VOCABULARY


GRAMMAR


Grammar 1: Modal Particle le 了 in Chinese (I)-New Situation · HSK 1

There are a lot of Particles in Chinese, and 了 is probably the most important one. It can either be used as a Aspect Particle or a Modal Particle.

In this lesson we’ll learn about Modal Particle le 了 in Chinese. It indicates that something has happened, appeared, been realized. In other words, the state of something has changed, and there is a "new situation" now.

Compare the two sentences in each group:

  • tā shí suì
    他十岁。
    he is 10 years old [a state]
  • tā shí suì le
    他十岁了。
    he (is) 10 years old (now) [a new state]

 

  • wǒ xiǎng xué Zhōngwén
    我想学中文。
    I want to learn Chinese [a state]
  • wǒ xiǎng xué Zhōngwén le
    我想学中文了。
    I want to learn Chinese (now) [a new state]

 

  • wǒ bù mǎi fēijīpiào
    我不买飞机票。
    I don't buy plane ticket [a state]
  • wǒ bù mǎi fēijīpiào le
    我不买飞机票了。
    I don't (plan to) buy plane ticket (anymore) [a new state]

 

We usually use 了 at the end of a sentence and in such a structure:

Subject + Verb Predicate (+Object) + 

For example,

With Object

  • tā yǒu nánpéngyou le
    她有男朋友了。
    she has (a) boyfriend (now) [she didn't have one before]
  • wǒmen bù xǐhuan chī miàntiáo le
    我们不喜欢吃面条了。
    we don't like eating noodles (now) [we did like eating it before]

Without Object

  • wǒ bù mǎi fēijīpiào
    我不买飞机票。
    I don't buy plane ticket [a state]
  • wǒ bù mǎi fēijīpiào le
    我不买飞机票了。
    I don't (plan to) buy plane ticket (anymore) [a new state]

 

Subject + Adj. Predicate + 

For example,

  • nǐde kāfēi lěng le
    你的咖啡冷了。
    your coffee (is) cold (now) [it was hot earlier]
  • Běijīngde fángzi xiànzài piányi le
    北京的房子现在便宜了。
    houses in Beijing (are) cheap (now) [compared with before]
  • sùshède diànshì huài le
    宿舍的电视坏了。
    the TV in the dormitory (is) broken (now) [it was working earlier]

Subject + N. Predicate + 

For example,

  • wǒ jīnnián shísuì le
    我今年十岁了。
    I (am) 10 years old this year
  • jīntiān shíbā hào le
    今天十八号了。
    today (is already) the 18th (of the month)

 

When using the Modal Particle le  了 in Chinese, we are not looking at the Tense, we’re looking at the action or the event itself, and 了 indicates the state of the action or event, that it’s been done or it has happened already. But we’re not pointing out whether the status is in the past, present or future with 了. It could be any of them. For example,

  • wǒ zuótiān shísuì le
    我昨天十岁了。
    I (became) 10 years old yesterday
  • wǒ jīntiān shísuì le
    我今天十岁了。
    today I (am) 10 years old (now)
  • wǒ míngtiān shísuì le
    我明天十岁了。
    I (will be) 10 years old tomorrow

 

Grammar 2: Zero-Subject Sentence in Chinese 无主句 · HSK 1

With 了 sentences, it usually follows this order: Subject Predicate (Object) plus 了, but sometimes we don’t need to say the Subject if it’s obvious. Sentences without a Subject, are called Zero-subject Sentence 无主句 Wúzhǔjù.

Predicate + 

  • xiàyǔ le
    下雨了。
    (it is now) raining / (it has) rained
  • zhīdào le
    知道了。
    (someone decided by the context) know (already)
  • wǔyuè le
    五月了。
    (it is) May (already)
  • wǔgeyuè le
    五个月了。
    (it has been) five months (already)
  • yìxiǎoshí èrshífēnzhōng le
    一小时二十分钟了。
    (it has been) 1 hour and 20 minutes (already)

 

Grammar 3: To Rain and to Snow in Chinese · HSK 1

We have learned 下 xià as a Locality Noun meaning "down; underneath; bottom" in Lesson 15, but in this lesson,  in 下雨 and 下雪, 下 means "to go down; to fall down". It is used to suggest that for snow or rain to fall down.

  • xiàyǔ
    下雨
    to rain [down falls the rain]
  • xiàxuě
    下雪
    to snow [down falls the snow]

 

Grammar 4: Minute in Chinese: 分 vs 分钟 · HSK 1

In Lesson 14 of our Basic Chinese Course, we learned that 分 fēn means minute. The word 分钟 fēnzhōng also means minute in Chinese. The difference is that for reading a certain time on the clock, for example 4:20, we can only use 分, not 分钟.

But if we want to say "20 minutes", we use 分钟. 

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