How to use word 了 'le' ?


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How to use word 了 'le' ?


Aspect is a feature of grammar that gives information about the temporal flow of language. Chinese has a unique complement of aspects: for example, 了(-le) is usually added after a word or at the end of a sentence to indicate something happened.


In the following activities you will explore how to use 了 (-le) in both positive and negative sentences.

Activity 1: Use 'le' to indicate when something happened


Please choose the correct translation for each sentence.

Remember: the sentence particle 'le' shows that a certain event has taken place. So it is used where the completion of the whole process.

Did you go to visit your friends?

Did you have your breakfast?

He went to China.

Activity 2: 'le' is used to indicate a change of situation or in exclamations


Please write down the translation in the box by using 'le'.

Remember: 'le' can be also used at the end of a sentence to indicate that the general stage of affairs has changed or in exclamations.

I don't want it any more. (I did before)

I am hungry. (I wasn't before)

It is summer. (It was Spring)

Activity 3: 'le' is used after a verb

If attention is focused on the detail of how that action was carried out, 'le' goes directly after the verb:


Please choose the correct translation for each sentence.

Please try to apply the rules.

They bought three books.

How many days did you stay in Beijing?

We ate some extremely nice things.

She bought things, ate, watched TV, then went to bed.

Activity 4: 'le' in a negative sentence

To make a sentence about something which happend in the past negative, use 'méi you' (shortened to méi) before the verb, and drop 'le'.


Change the following sentences to negative forms

  1. Nĭ zuó tiān hē jiŭ le. 你昨天喝酒了。
  2. Tā qù Zhōngguó le. 他 去中国了。
  3. Tā dă diàn huà le. 她打电话了。

© Qian Zhang/University of Bedfordshire

Created using the LOC Tool, University of Southampton