placement of le in sentence

Robert-C7 January 3, 2015, 9:36 pm
When specifying a completed action, i.e. past tense, what is the difference between these two sentences?

tā chī fàn le
他吃饭了
he ate [rice]

wǒ kàn le shū
我看了书
I read a book

In both cases, the verb is one syllable and the object is one syllable. What if I rewrote the first sentence:

tā chī le fàn
他吃了饭
he ate [rice]

Does this change the meaning in any way?
placement of le in sentence
Lin-Ping January 27, 2015, 8:11 am
Robert 你好!

Essentially they have the same meaning, yes. In the name of simplicity I would consider them to have the same meaning.

However, when you place the 了 between the verb and object as you have done so above, sometimes it can indicate that the action has been completed in the past yet the action was fully realised. Let's take 他吃了饭 as an example. This person may have had a meal but not eaten the entire plate.

As you can see the distinction is quite unclear and very much up to the interpretation of the listener. Thus as we say in Chinese, 了解就可以了, which means 'know it on face value but don't read too much into it'.

Keep up the great work ad 加油!

- Lin Ping
placement of le in sentence
Robert-C7 February 4, 2015, 12:47 am

Thank you for taking the time to answer this question.

On a side note I notice there are now formatting options in this window. However, if I click on the keyboard, I have not yet figured out how to turn it off.

placement of le in sentence
Lin-Ping February 19, 2015, 7:49 am

Robert, 你好!

That is not a problem, I am here to help and I realise that despite the fact we try to make our course as comprehensive as possible, there rest a plethora of idiosyncracies that slip through the cracks.

In terms of the formatting query, I would suggest emailing technical support. I have noticed the changes as well and am doing my best to adjust but I must admit, this is not my area of expertise.

Keep up the good work! 加油!

   -   Lin Ping

placement of le in sentence

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