In the following sentences, why is 了 placed after the object?



I have looked at a Grammar Wiki page on when 了 can go after the object, but none of the reasons given seem to explain what is going on in these two sentences.

Wiki page: https://resources.allsetlearning.com/chinese/grammar/Advanced_%22le%22_after_an_object).


3 Answers 3


In those sentences, it's a modal particle, in which case it expresses a change of state. The page you linked has a link to it.

A change of state doesn't necessarily mean an actual physical change. It could be implied, or it could be a change in one's assumptions.

In your example sentences.


Here the change implied is from a state of being in England to a state of not being in England. Yes, it is backwards (!). You have to interpret the sentence from the point of view of the speaker. The first character Ma Dawei is seeing Lin Na after a long time, and he thinks: "I haven't seen her in a long time, she must have gone back to England". But obviously she's not in England anymore, since Ma Dawei is seeing her right now.

So the change implied by Ma Dawei is that Lin Na used to be in England and now she's back to Beijing.

Lin Na then replies:


This change could be relative to two things:

One, it is relative to Ma Dawei's assumption. Lin Na says: "I didn't go back to England, (instead/actually/in fact) I went to Shanghai". Using 了 here stresses the fact that the actual situation isn't what Ma Dawei thought.

Or two, it is relative to the change in location, i.e. she was in Shanghai but she is now back in Beijing. The reasoning is similar to the previous sentence uttered by Ma Dawei.

I interpret Lin Na's sentence as the latter possibility, but one could make a case for both.


了 is to imply if the action has been completed or not.

Are you going back to the UK?


Have you gone back to the UK yet?

If I ask the first sentence without "了", it implies I know the person isn't in UK yet, and I'm asking if they're going back in the near future.
When I ask the second sentence to the person with 了, it implies I'm assuming the person might be back in UK aleady, but I'm confirming with them.

Again, same thing applies to the sentence,我去上海了. It means the action is completed so the person went to Shanghai/have gone to Shanghai.

Another very common short sentence would be:



Ate yet?

You're inviting someone to eat with you, implying that you assume the person hasn't eaten yet.
With the second sentence, you're questioning if the person has eaten yet. This implies you assumed the person has eaten, but you're confirming if that's true.


In these two sentences, 了 is necessary to indicate the time the subject trip took place in the past.

好久不见,你回英国了吗? - Haven't seen you for a while, did you return to England?

好久不见,你回英国吗? - Haven't seen you for a while, are you returning to England?

我没有回英国,我去上海了 - No, I did not, I went to Shanghai.

我没有回英国,我去上海。 - (This response can be perceived as the same as the above, but ill-composed as in the English equivalent - "No, I did not, I went Shanghai." Or, No, I did not, I go Shanghai.")

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