I'm going through an anki deck and have come across the following sentence: 我去听他的演讲去晚了

The verb is mentioned twice, the first time to describe the goal (听他的演讲) and secondly to describe the verb, like an adverb (she went late).

NOTE: I've only ever seen adverbs using 地 or 得

Can I do this with any verb? e.g. 我吃古老肉吃快了?

What about two character verbs?

  • complement of degree: 我去听他的演讲去得太(比较)晚 (no 了) given example might be considered as 2 separate clauses 我去听他的演讲,去晚了 cf. 晚,adverb,late e.g. 火车开晚了,来晚了,我今天起晚了
    – user6065
    Commented Aug 13, 2016 at 23:28
  • i.e. the meaning is "I went to listen to his speech, but was late" and not "I went too late to listen to his speech".
    – user6065
    Commented Aug 14, 2016 at 0:36
  • Henny you sentence appears to be a bit clumsy, why not just use 我晚了去听他的演讲? I would use your version only when I want to emphasize that I am LATE.
    – user13501
    Commented Aug 18, 2016 at 15:23

2 Answers 2


Two clauses compressed to one by reintroducing the verb. The first instance is descriptive (I am going to listen to his lecture). The second instance describes the result of the action (I came late).

You need to reintroduce the verb to give 晚 the proper context. Without it, 晚 would refer to 演讲.

Sometimes you can omit one instance of the verb: 你(说)汉语说得很流利。

Sometimes you really have no choice: 你说汉语比我说汉语说得好。

  • So it's essentially the same as 我去听他的讲演去得晚?
    – Henny
    Commented Aug 14, 2016 at 0:53
  • complements of degree for verbs with objects require repetition of verb and 得, but the adverb is usually qualified by "很,非常,太", 我去听他的讲演去得晚 somehow does not seem to follow the pattern of complements of degree, on the other hand jukuu has many examples of 得晚
    – user6065
    Commented Aug 14, 2016 at 1:09
  • there seems to be some variation of naming complements (补语),"实用现代汉语语法" has 情态补语 (manner) as well as 程度补语 (degree),"外国人实用汉语语法" seems to include the former in the latter, although user could not find any examples for complements with adjective (e.g.晚)used adverbially not qualified by another adverb (e.g. 很、太,非常,比较)or instead preceded by 比+NP,OP proposed 我去听他的讲演去得晚 may still be OK. However, feeding 得晚 to jukuu yields 18 examples, 1 of which is a complement: 我去上学,去得非常晚,6 are irrelevant, 1 is repeated, leaving 10, which also all have 晚 qualified by one of 太、要稍微、比较、这么、很、再。
    – user6065
    Commented Aug 14, 2016 at 18:31

To answer your question:

Yes, you can actually copy the format and use it in similar situations where your action was to do something for someone else or because of someone else.

Yes, you can also copy the format and use it in situations where your action was about yourself or to serve yourself, but we do not use this type of expression as listed above as often.

For both situations, it is better to add "comma" before the second verb, because just like in English, comma indicates rhythm or breath break when speaking, and grammatically it signals something is about to change.

Examples: Your actions are about someone else or to serve someone else 1: 我去送饭,送慢了(I went to deliver food, but I was late) 2: 我去帮忙送孩子上学,送早了(I went to help drop off the kid, but I was too early) 3: 我去交作业,交晚了(I went to turn in my homework, but I was late) 4: 我去听他的演讲,去晚了(I went to listen to his speech, but I was late)

Your actions are about yourself or to serve yourself 5: 我吃古老肉,吃快了 Usually, the expression goes like this: I ate gulao meat, but I ate it too fast so now my stomach hurts. Translation:我吃咕咾肉,吃太快了, 我肚子现在疼(notice "了"; it means the action has been completed, and there is a result or consequence following in situations where the actions are about you)

To sum it up: 1: 我去听他的演讲,去晚了(add common to be grammatically correct; follow the speaking pattern of that in English, if you feel like to pause in a sentence, then that is a good indication that there should be a comma) 2: 我吃古老肉,吃快了,所以我肚子疼 (we would not have a hard time at all to understand the fact that you were eating pork and you ate it too fast; but what useful information does it give to me? Not much I am afraid. To have a meaningful conversation, usually a result or consequence shall follow the fact, and of course, after you have paused and decided to share what that consequence maybe.)

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