If I say "I'm going to smoke" I would say "我去抽烟", right? Or would I say "我去抽烟了"?

In this case, 了 represents a change, so I suppose 我去抽烟了 makes sense. Any difference in nuance between the two?


7 Answers 7


我去抽烟 is the standard way to express "I am going to have a cigarette". You don't need a "了" at all. Adding a "了" emphasizes the fact that you are about to do it RIGHT NOW. Sometimes, it implies that you are asking for others' opinions. For example, “如果没什么事,我去抽烟了.” (If you don't have anything else for me, I am going to have a cigarette now(outside).)

  • 1
    And I don't agree with people who claimed adding a “了” makes it more casual. Adding unnecessary model, such as “了”,will make people feel you are uncertain about what you are going to do.
    – user16587
    Commented Mar 3, 2017 at 2:31

Actually, they mean exactly the same. "我去抽烟了" is just more casual and that's what we will say in real life.

  • "going to" seems to mean near future, whereas 去 implies some movement, and commonly follows an adverbial like 到户外去, or is followed by an object e。g。 我去逛街了, 我去找老师商量这事,我去上班,in the case of smoking 厕所 might be a possible object:我去厕所抽烟
    – user6065
    Commented Feb 21, 2017 at 6:19

If you are trying to say "I'm going to smoke."

我去抽烟  I'm going to smoke
我去抽根烟 I'm going to have a cig
我出去抽根烟 I'm going to have a cig outside.

我去抽烟了 could be said when someone ask you

"Where were you?" or "What did you do?" or "Where did you go?"

And it means

I was having a cig/ I was smoking.

"了" could imply a finished action when you put it at the end of a sentence.


了 is signifies the "perfective aspect". Note that there's no tense in Chinese language, but aspect. Perfective aspect in this context means a finished action. (Alternatively, experiential aspect also expresses similar meaning, but they're slightly different)

So 我去抽烟了 emphasised that you've smoked. While 我去抽烟 means you're going to smoke with no aspect. (The four aspects of Modern Mandarin Chinese are perfective, imperfective (durative stative and durative progressive), and experiential.)


If you'd use these sentences to tell people what you are going to do right now, I do not think there is any noteworthy difference between them.

But if you'd use them to respond to someone who asks you what you're going to do, you should use the first one (without 了).

Also, as other answers say, you can use the second sentence to describe what you were doing just now.


通常中文的"了" 等於英文的過去式

A:你要去哪裡? B:我去抽烟
A:你剛剛去哪裡? B:我去抽烟了

現實使用時 "了"也被拿來當語氣

兩者只有一點點語氣上的差別 (just a little difference)


C:好煩 我去抽菸
C:好煩 我去抽菸了

Adding unnecessary model, such as “了” does make it more casual. for example, 了 means everything will be end soon。 both in tense and modal so if it function as modal word ,it means you have solved almost every problem asked by others and you can do something to relax yourself like to have a cig。。。了 or to play game 了

  • so 了 is a magical word to relax our mood in chinese ,same with the english phrase take it easy
    – Yu Yusen
    Commented Apr 8, 2017 at 9:52

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