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We were discussing this topic in the class yesterday and had a few difficulties understanding it. The main problem was to understand when the sentence / phrase is referred to a regular action or to the action in the past. Could this be figured out without additional time markers?

For example, from these sentences: 去北京的火车 or 妈妈做的菜

  • Similar questions had been asked many times. Here is one of them: chinese.stackexchange.com/questions/22204/… To check if your question had been asked in the past, you can type key words in the search Q&A box on the upper right corner of the page. – Tang Ho Dec 20 '16 at 13:12
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    @TangHo Of course I searched for similar questions before posting mine. I didn't see the answer to my question in the link you provided. – UVV Dec 20 '16 at 13:39
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Modifying nouns with phrase + 的

A [phrase + 'adjective suffix 的'] is an 'adjective phrase'. It functions as an adjective for the noun. If there is a [clause +'adjective suffix 的'], then it is an 'adjective clause'

的 can also be a 'possessive' but that's another topic.

The main problem was to understand when the sentence / phrase is referred to a regular action or to the action in the past. Could this be figured out without additional time markers?

May be this can help: How do you specify past tense for 是?

So, the answer is, " no, you can't figure out the action is in the past or present without additional time markers, but you don't need to"

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An explicit time marker is always required. There is no exception. But sometime it depends on the context, even without a time marker.

到达了北京的火车
The train that reached Beijing

这都是妈妈做的菜
All this food are cooked by mum.
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    "An explicit time marker is always required." I assume you mean, if you want to specify the time (or aspect). Otherwise, an explicit time marker is not required for the phrase to be grammatical. – Brian Tung Dec 23 '16 at 21:03

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