了 is a particle that indicates the perfective--the verb has no interior composition. This is different from the perfect aspect in English which focuses on the result of an action in the past that may or may not have interior composition. So why is it that I cannot say "明年,我学了中文" to indicate that by next near I would have learned Chinese? In Russian, the perfective aspect can be used in a future tense.

  • 1
    CCG 6。8。1"The completion aspect ...了 can be used with future time only in incomplete clauses (which are resolved by further information):明天你下了课来找我。我写完了三封信就去睡觉。One cannot say, for example: *明天我上了三节课。*下个礼拜你吃了三次中餐。"Accordingly "明年我学了中文" is wrong, but "明年我学了中文,就会忘记以前学好的英文" would be OK。 – user6065 Mar 23 '17 at 18:36
  • related: chinese.stackexchange.com/questions/18059/… and CCG 6.8.1 ...where both the subject and the object are of definite reference and are part of known information, the sentence remains incomplete unless something further is added. For example, these 2 are incomplete: 他写完了诗。。。我吃了饭。。。but are readily completed by an additional clause: 他写完了诗就去睡觉了。我吃了饭就去上班了。...of course acceptable if object qualified by numerical phrase to indicate indefinite or generic reference 他收到了三封信。他碰见了不少朋友。 – user6065 Mar 23 '17 at 20:15
  • "使用现代汉语语法"(第367页):只有当句子中有两个谓词性短语,"了"用在第一个谓词性短中,时间词才可能是表示将来的。例如:(4)明天我看了电影就来找你。在这种情况下,包含"了"的谓词性短语,实际上表示后一个谓词性短语中动作发生的时间。如例(4)"明天我看了电影"表示"来找你"的时间。有些假设句也属于这种情况。例如:(5)我要是当了部长,一定提拔你。(6)你当了总经理可别忘了我们。应指出,这种表示将来时间的句子都不是叙述句,一般是出现于对话中的句子。 – user6065 Mar 24 '17 at 5:05
  • “【等我明年学了中文,】【 就会忘记以前学好的英文。】"【condition】【result】A Chinese conditional sentence. Nothing has happened yet. The condition has not yet occurred, the result has not been fulfilled. – Pedroski Mar 25 '17 at 0:55

i think it is because of that we use 了 to express that the status is really exist,mostly it is the status of something has done or over/ended/finished.as you can not make sure a thing has not happened definitely happen in the future,so you can not say 明年,我学了中文.that sentence also indicate that you have finished the learning of chinese.

I have heard that 了 can serve to indicate actions to be completed in the future, if the action is to be completed by the time of some other action you also talk about. I see this in several grammar books. And as an on-line source.

https://resources.allsetlearning.com/chinese/grammar/Expressing_completion_with_%22le%22

has several examples such as

你 到 了 告诉 我。future action
Nǐ dào le gàosu wǒ.
When you have arrived, tell me.

The comment by user6065 says that "明年,我学了中文" is wrong because it does not give any second action after the studying of Chinese. But 了 can be used correctly to indicate a completed action that has yet to come.

  • the comment means what it says – user6065 Mar 28 '17 at 8:10

'I would have learned ...' means 'I did not learn ..' it is subjunctive. Something got in the way.
'I will learn ...' means 'I have not yet learned ...' and you are looking to the future.

So why is it that I cannot say

"明年,我学了中文"

to indicate that?

  1. You are talking about the past

First I studied Russian.
首先我学了俄语。
The next year I studied Chinese.
翌年我学了中文。
I was studying Chinese and getting good.
我当时正在学中文, 并且越来越好,
by the next year I would have learned Chinese, but then the war started.
我本可以在次年学完中文,但是战争爆发了。

  1. You are talking about the future

“By this time next year, I'm sure I will have learned Chinese.” (wish I could say that!!)
等到明年这个时候,我肯定我将学完中文。

明年 is most definitely future. You need 将。

"了" is usually used in describing something happened in the past. If you would like to say something in the future with "了," there should be the other action to express that after you finish action one, and then you are going to make the action two.

For example, "明年我学了中文以后,我还要学法文" (After I learn Chinese in next year, I'm going to learn French, too.)

"了" means something finish or is about to be finished. Can't use it in further tense. It is one words with two pronunciation and similar meaning.

Accordibg to商务新词典p32-33

A △了 liao第三声

  1. 懂,明白(understand) e.g了解,一目了然
  2. 完结,结束(finish) e.g不了了之、没完没了
  3. 完全(complete) e.g了无愧色、了不相干
  4. 在动词之后,与“得”“不”连用,表示可能或不可能(“得了” “不了” indicate something possible or impossible) e.g干得了、办不了

B △了 le轻声

  1. 用在动词或形容词后面表示动作或变化已经完成或将要完成(Behind the verb or adjective, indicate the action or change finished or is about to be finished) e.g. 我喝了一瓶水(I have drunk a bottle of water )
  2. 用在句子末,表示肯定语气(It is used at the end of the sentence,indicate something you are sure) e.g. 刮风了、可以走了
  3. 表示感叹语气(sigh) e.g太棒了(great!)、这下好了(thats right!),有救了

So,back to the question

Q: Why is it that I cannot say "明年,我学了中文" to indicate that by next near I would have learned Chinese?

A: In the sentese," 了" following a verb so it should pronounce "le轻声" . Because of matching B1 meaning “The action or change finished or have done” If 明年and学了use in the sentence, it will be a grammar mistake. Like:I have learned Chinese next year. 明年,我学了中文

So uncertain,have I learned it?Or I am going to learn it?

“明年,我会去学中文”maybe better.

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