I understand the differences between aspectual and modal particle, but I have some confusion about when a sentence ends with a 了 and at the same time with a verb, like 来了. So it is aspectual or modal?

  • 1
    Can you provide an example sentence?
    – fefe
    Feb 14, 2020 at 1:41
  • fefe, 我买了一本书 aspectual mark 下雪了! modal mark I know well the differences, but I have some confusions when a sentence ends with a verb and with a 了. example : 你来了吗? 我来了。 来了 so could be both? aspctual and modal? Because it could be a new situation but also an ended action? Feb 14, 2020 at 9:07

3 Answers 3


“来” is an action. So it is aspectual. It indicates the action has ended.

“来” is not a situation. Although a situation that "I am here" can be inferred from the fact that the action of coming (来) has ended. So it is not an indication of new situation.

You can say "我在了", in which the "了" is modal. "在" here indicates a (new) situation.

  • ok thank you, I ask you this beacuse on my book there is the sentence '来了' that could means 'I'm coming' like a new situation but also 'I came' like a realized action. So I'm a little bit confused Feb 14, 2020 at 12:08
  • @SimoneOtgianu For "I'm coming“, I think it should be in fact "来啦" but not "来了“. But in casual writing they just got mixed up.
    – fefe
    Feb 14, 2020 at 13:13

Interestingly, it's ambiguous to say just 我来了. And this is often used as an equivocal responsible:

  • 都六点了,你怎么还没来?

  • 我来了,我来了,马上就到。

  • 谁知道你是要来还是已经来了?说不定还没出发呢!

  • (推门)你看我这不是来了嘛!

来了:About to leave and come here / coming here / arrived here


来了 gives no information about time. That information comes from other words.

  1. 她十有八九不会来了。不会 = will not
  2. 我父母昨天来了。 昨天 = yesterday
  3. 他不再来了。 不再 = never again, not anymore
  4. 他被吸引到外面来了。 到 ... 来 = to ... from
  5. 夜凉了,秋天快要来了。 快要 = soon will
  6. 我们的周年纪念又来了。 又 = again, soon
  7. 冬天来了,春天还会远吗? 冬天来了 = if winter comes (subjunctive) "Ode to the West Wind, Shelley"
  8. 我想她很快就会来了。 会来了 = will come

"我父母来了。" says Mum and Dad arrived, but you don't know when!

  • petfect, I understand everything, but I want to know grammatically, if is aspectual or modal. Feb 15, 2020 at 10:37
  • If you can define the Western Grammar concepts of Aspect and Mood rigidly, your answer will automatically follow. The problem lies in Western Grammar: it will not rigidly define anything. It is an art, not a science. it is better not to apply this art to Chinese. 来了 its own has neither aspect nor mood.
    – Pedroski
    Feb 16, 2020 at 6:27

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