querist Post time 2013-6-29 01:50:39

Grammar Question: use of 了

The particle 了is what grammarians would call an aspect marker. If I understand it correctly, it indicates that an action has been completed (what is commonly called the "perfective" aspect).

My question is regarding placement and interpretation of that placement.

Take two sample sentences:


Both sentences could be translated in English as "I went to see a movie."

I wrote the first one in response to a translation exercise in my book asking me to translate that sentence into Chinese. The answer key listed the second one as the correct answer.

So, I posted a question on Weixin (Wechat) and received two different answers, one (A) telling me that sentence 1 is grammatically incorrect and the other (B) (from a Chinese Teacher) telling me that they were both correct, but that sentence 1 states that the act of going was completed but does not say if I actually saw the movie, only that I went somewhere with the intention of seeing a movie, while sentence 2 indicates that I went somewhere and saw the movie.

So, I am posting the question here for any native speakers to answer. I am especially interested in opinions from language teachers. To me, the explanation that both are grammatically correct but the placement of 了 shows exactly which action or actoins were completed. To me, that seems more logical and more useful.

So, please, I am trying to find a good, qualified explanation so I can be sure I am using the language correctly.

Thank you!

caihong Post time 2013-6-30 18:25:28

1. 第一句语法错误。
2. 第二句语法正确。
3. “电影"前的量词用得不对。应该是“场”,中国人没有人会说看了一“个”电影。。。



LoneAcorn Post time 2013-6-30 22:21:06

Agree with (A), sentence 1 is grammatically incorrect.

querist Post time 2013-7-1 21:00:14

This post was edited by querist at 2013-7-1 08:03

Kbay Post time: 2013-6-30 01:06 static/image/common/back.gif
or you could have written

That would work if my intention was to say that I saw the movie, but the intention in the exercise was to say that I went to see a movie.

Thanks for your help, KBay.

querist Post time 2013-7-1 21:03:18

LoneAcorn Post time: 2013-6-30 09:21 static/image/common/back.gif
Agree with (A), sentence 1 is grammatically incorrect.

Now this is interesting... you, Lone Acorn, are a Chinese language teacher just like the person who told me that (A) was grammatically correct but simply indicated the completion of "go" and did not say anything about "see".

Now I'm confused. I guess I'll avoid the construction in (A) until I can learn more. Thank you for your help.

querist Post time 2013-7-1 21:04:17

caihong Post time: 2013-6-30 05:25 static/image/common/back.gif
1. 第一句语法错误。
2. 第二句语法正确。
3. “电影"前的量词用得不对。应该是“场”,中国人没有人会说看 ...


querist Post time 2013-7-1 21:25:32

Kbay Post time: 2013-7-1 08:06 static/image/common/back.gif
Caihong's explanation is bang on.

Great. Thanks for the help, everyone!
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