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  • 她离开了三年了
  • 她离开三年了

My two different textbooks say those two sentences respectively for the one same meaning: "It's been three years since she left." but I'm still not sure because my books are too old and meager in terms of contents. Do they really have the same meaning? If so, can I take the 她离开三年了 as an abbreviated version of 她离开了三年了 which leaves out the aspectual particle 了 after 离开? If there's a difference between the meanings of the two sentences, please let me know.

Thanks for your help in advance!

  • abbreviated version ✓,as confirmed by previous discussions at this site and grammar texts – user6065 Jan 25 '16 at 16:53
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她离开了三年了: She had been away for 3 years. (She could have been back now or could have not been back.).
她离开三年了: She has been away for 3 years (have not been back).

她离开了三年了 could be the abbreviated version of 她离开三年了 and is used to describe the same thing, and it could also be different.

  • If she is already back after being away for 3 years, you could say 她离开了三年 (she was away for 3 years) – Potato Chip Jan 25 '16 at 23:35
  • Yes, we can say that. – Wang Zong'an Jan 25 '16 at 23:47
  • as has been pointed out at this site before, 了 functions as aspectual or modal particle according as it immediately follows the verb or is at the end of the sentence, therefore if there is just one 了 at the end 她离开三年 is presented as a new situation (ignoring what may have happened later), with 2 了's, the absence is presented as a completed situation, which is also presented as a new situation, in the latter case the first 了 is often omitted – user6065 Jan 26 '16 at 1:38
  • They are same, but it is a bit Better to say: 她离开三年了 – SIDU Jan 28 '16 at 2:43
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她离开了三年了: Without context this sounds weird to me. Without any context, all the responses above are just adding to confusion. to render it more idiomatic, perhaps change to: 她离开已经有三年了。 她离开三年了: this is idiomatic.

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Im my opinion, we can't tell whether the woman came back or not without context in both sentences. In comparison, I think the nuances is that "她离开三年了" stress how many years she has left.

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Oops, I think there is no difference between these two sentences, but the latter one is more preferred for it is tighter. To make no misunderstanding, I would say that we do need “了” to finish a sentence, make it sounds better, help to form a phrase, or do other things, but we just don't need too many “了” in one sentence.

If you read two sentence, I think you may feel that the second one is more natural.

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他离开三年,这边就都乱了。

他离开了三年,这边就都乱了。

?他离开了三年了,这边就都乱了。

?他离开三年了,这边就都算了。

These uses suggest that there is a difference between 他离开了三年 and 他离开了三年了. My decision on this difference is that 他离开了三年 emphasizes temporal interval with a start and finish point, that can be used to denote a background time in terms of duration. This type of time does not relate to the time of utterance, i.e., the so-called aspect. In contrast, 他离开了三年了 is open to this utterance time, i.e., the so-called tense. More importantly, this ‘leave’ event does not relate to whether he comes back or not. After all, that he comes back or has not come back presuppose a time of utterance. No matter whether he comes back, the subsequent event still happened as the speaker intended to express. That said, 离开了三年 is just used to subjectively choose or make prominent an interval of time.

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