Do 我吃早飯 and 我吃早飯 mean the same thing (I have eaten breakfast), slightly different things? Or is one of them wrong? Which is better?

(For context, the second option was marked incorrect by an app and I can't figure out if it's a problem with an app or something I don't understand.


2 Answers 2


From my answer to this question:

Example cases with 了

  1. 了: aspect marker, indicating completed action.

  2. 了: final particle, indicating change of situation.

  3. 了: final particle, indicating sentence has ended; emphasize sentence; soften tone


  • 了 is an aspect marker indicating completed action when it is following a verb but not at the end of a phrase, therefore, 我吃了早飯 can only mean "I've eaten breakfast" (the verb 吃 is completed)

我吃早飯了 :

  • If 了 is treated as a aspect marker, the sentence would mean "I have eaten breakfast" (the verb phrase 吃早飯 is completed)

  • If 了 is treated as a final particle (indicating change of situation), the sentence would mean "I (now) eat breakfast (from previously not eating breakfast to now eating breakfast)

  • or more likely, 了 indicates 1. the sentence has ended, 2. adding emphasis or soften the tone of the sentence

"我吃早飯" sounds blunt and make the sentence sound incomplete

In "我吃了早飯了", the first 了 indicates the verb 吃 is a completed action and the second 了 indicates the sentence is finished (also emphasize the sentence / soften the tone)

  • 我吃早饭 sounds fairly natural to me. If a friend texts you 「干吗?」 then 「我(在)吃早饭」 would be likely enough. But it is, of course, not past, and it means a different thing. Commented Apr 2, 2020 at 19:41

我吃早飯了 and 我吃了早飯

Both are possible, but used in different context.

A: 你吃早饭了吗? // Have you eaten your breakfast?

B: 我吃早飯了 // I have eaten the breakfast.

A: 你吃了什么? // What have you eaten?

B: 我吃了早飯 // I have eaten the breakfast.

  • If I want to say "I have eaten breakfast", can you clarify the difference in feeling between 我吃早飯了 and 我吃了早飯? Commented Apr 2, 2020 at 9:28
  • 1
    @taciteloquence I think the speaker's assumption is different. 我吃早饭了 assumes that your interlocutor knows what you have eaten - breakfast, while 我吃了早饭 not.
    – dan
    Commented Apr 2, 2020 at 23:41

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