I saw this example on another website: 他们都拿着票。

Tāmen dōu názhe piào.

They were all holding tickets.

I noticed that it said they were all holding tickets. Does that imply it is the past tense? Or is it a narrative?

If a sentence lacks a time indication is it always a certain way? Should this sentence include 了?

  • I think it's a narrative, i.e. it depends on context. Without that, it should be progressive tense.
    – user4072
    Commented Jul 5, 2017 at 2:16

1 Answer 1


In Chinese sometimes a sentense may lack a time, which is quite different from English, which has a specific tense. In this case the tense depends on the text and the language environment but not always means a same way.

For example, imagine that if you were buying a ticket and saw some people who hold tickets, "他们都拿着票" would mean progressive tense. If it is a narrative, it may means past tense.

As for "了","了" can be used in many tense. See this Tense and use of 了

  • Yeah..there was no context, it was just an example, so thank you for clarifying. I understand how to use 了, but my question was, can it still be indicative of past tense WITHOUT 了?
    – Abe Shudug
    Commented Jul 5, 2017 at 3:39
  • Of course. It's very flexible.
    – xzqsr
    Commented Jul 5, 2017 at 4:01
  • I will communicate with you at sometime through Google..I am busy studying right now..I don't like to break pace. I love you btw
    – Abe Shudug
    Commented Jul 5, 2017 at 4:08
  • Great! I'm expecting! haha :)
    – xzqsr
    Commented Jul 5, 2017 at 4:13

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