"他这个时候该到了."

I'm assuming in this context 了 is being used to express a change of state. However, isn't obvious to the listener that if someone is arriving they were somewhere else?

Or, I could be wrong and 了 is being used for some other reason in this context.

Side question: How often is 了 used in actual conversation?

up vote 1 down vote accepted

I suppose a literal translation may help. As a native speaker I never have to learn the grammar so I cannot help you with that.

"他这个时候该到了."

"He should have arrived by now."

他 > He

这个 > this

时候 > moment / time

该 > should / should have

到 > arrive (Not "arrived". Recall that Chinese doesn't have explicit past tense, or any tense at all.)

了 > have / already (Indicate completed action of "到" i.e. "arrived" but modified by "该")

But then of course plenty of questions about "了" have been asked on this site. Please do a search for more academic answers. For example this has similarly been answered in this question: Why can't 了 be used to complement 到?

Answering your side question, "了" (and its counterparts) is used a lot in conversations. In addition to the other answers about "了" on this site regarding its literal meanings, it is often overused in daily conversations somewhat like "Hmm", "OK", "I mean" in English (bad analogy I know). Has meaning, maybe redundant, but often unnecessary. Doesn't make it incorrect usage though. Like when you learn about "兒", it is being used (to the extend I would say abused) in the North with no apparent meaning. TBH old Chinese (文言文) is way more efficient (and elegant), though it can be difficult to comprehend without context.

As a side note, the usage of "了" in your example provided is similar to "啦" in Singlish and "咗" "喇喎" in Cantonese.

  • 《這個時候》通不通? 1234 – Mark Gerolimatos May 23 '17 at 6:39
  • Is 《這個時候》 a book, a song, a film, a poem? Wrong quotation marks is what I am saying ;) Anyway don't think there's a problem. – Moobie May 23 '17 at 7:08
  • Sheesh :) It's the quotation marks I use because " " completely sucks with Chinese characters on a mobile device...looks like part of the character...ESPECIALLY in 繁体。 西方的引号在汉子中看不清楚,好像把字加点了。。。大“。。。犬。宁愿用中式的《引号》也不要用西方的“引号”。 – Mark Gerolimatos May 23 '17 at 18:53
  • How about 「」? ;) – Moobie May 24 '17 at 1:22
  • I dpnt even know what that is 😀 – Mark Gerolimatos May 24 '17 at 1:39

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