Is 了 ever/sometimes/never omitted for past subjunctive? What if not subjunctive; i.e., positively something did happen.

wohok.com gives for 没 two example sentences


and translates both as "I didn't buy this." (Could argue this is not subjunctive, but I am familiar with languages where a negative is always subjunctive.


Aside …

What is the difference between 没有+V. and 没+V.? answers that there is no practical difference between 没有 and 没, but a comment suggests subtle differences in meaning or connotation. (Have to translate a lot of Chinese to figure out what it is saying!)

  • Yes, one of my questions was duplicate before edit, though it will take me time to understand. (The duplicate suggester is almost never helpful; how do you guys find them?). The other question remains after edit.
    – 伟思礼
    Commented Apr 4, 2019 at 7:03
  • I think the question is very good. The role of 了 in Chinese is strange to say the least. Generally, Chinese people I ask would not use '了' in '我没有买。' but they might end with '啊 or 呀' Cf. ‘我不(想)买了。’I don't (want) to buy (that, it). = I won't buy that.' You might say: '汉语好奇怪啊!‘ but not '汉语好奇怪了’!:)
    – Pedroski
    Commented Apr 5, 2019 at 0:17
  • @伟思礼 What languages have negative = always subjunctive?
    – Michaelyus
    Commented Jun 4, 2019 at 10:08
  • Well, maybe usually subjunctive in Romance languages.
    – 伟思礼
    Commented Jun 4, 2019 at 16:10
  • It means Finished, or you idea changed. Commented Nov 7, 2019 at 9:06

2 Answers 2


了 never appears in past negation.

By definition, one of 了 grammatical functions is to indicate completed action, and not past tense. Hence, if the action did not happen at all (没), it has also never been completed.

他还没来 - He still didn't come (and not他还没来了

A side note to that is that 了 would appear in present negation.

他不来了 - He is not coming.


regarding 了 and negation note e.g. http://human.bsru.ac.th/e-learning/@PWP%20to%20PDF/57%20PDF%20Chiness/57%20Chiness%20Nongnut%202104308.pdf


♥ 否定句中,“没”与“了”不能同时出现。

♥ 我吃完饭了。→我没吃完饭。→*我没吃完饭了。

♥ 注意:动词前有表示一段时间的词语,句末可用语 气助词“了”。

♥ 我好长时间没看到他了。

♥ 他好久没上班了。

♥ 一年多没回家乡了。

naturally still applies to conditional clauses corresponding to English past subjunctive mood 过去虚拟语气:if I had not bought that 要是我没(有)买这个 (w/o 了) naturally 过 is possible (要是)我没(有)买过这个

to find more articles concerning absence of 了 in negative clauses search web using e.g. 汉语语法:动态助词"了" 用法与意义+否定句,get e.g. http://www.cim.chinesecio.com/hbcms/f/article/info?id=3c85e3090860428da0854f5fbab24aa5 : (三)否定句和疑问句

1.带有表示完成的“了”的句子的否定形式是没(有)+ 谓语动词注意:在用“没”的句子里,不可以再出现“了”。



for English could google "Chinese grammar: aspect particle 了: negation" get e.g. http://intensive-chinese.blogspot.com/2012/01/used-as-aspect-particle-and-as-modal.html (f) If you want turn an affirmative sentence which contains the aspect particle “了” into a negative sentence, you can do so by prefixing the adverb “没有” to the verb whilst dropping the aspect particle, e.g.: 他 吃了 晚饭 就 去 看 电影。 他 没有 吃 晚饭 就 去 看 电影。

We should never use “不” to negate a verb in the past tense or present perfect tense. For this purpose, we use “没有”; and when using “没有” , we also drop “了” .

  • 1
    Not sure how long it will take an English speaker to learn from something written in Chinese for Thai speakers.
    – 伟思礼
    Commented Apr 4, 2019 at 8:14
  • text does not seem to reveal that it might be addressed to Thai speakers, anyhow it states a well known fact that can easily be found in any grammar
    – user6065
    Commented Apr 4, 2019 at 8:35
  • Easily? Perhaps easy for Chinese speakers. I assume it's directed at Thai speakers because it comes from Thailand and has some Thai in it.
    – 伟思礼
    Commented Apr 5, 2019 at 17:39

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