In this article, it is said that:

If there’s a verb 了 at the end of a sentence that also needs a sentence 了, the two 了s just combined into one.

They also provided some examples.

However, these examples are not clear because they don’t show us how the sentences were before the two 了s merged.

The examples:

我吃了。 他去了。 你说了。

Due to the unclear explanation + examples, I find it difficult to understand what they mean.

How was “我吃了” before the 了s merged? Was it 我吃了了? If yes, why do we need two 了s here? Is it to show that the subject has completed the action of eating and is now full (there’s a change of their condition)?

2 Answers 2


Now you might be wondering what happens if there's a verb 了 at the end of a sentence that also needs a sentence 了. Can you put two 了s in the same place? The answer is that the two 了s just combine into one.
Chinese le grammar summary (了), Chinese Boost

I believe this is referring to a sentence (or clause) wherein:

  • there is a verb at the end of the sentence,
  • we want to add a completion 了 after the verb (referred to as "aspect marker" by Chinese Boost), and
  • we want to add a change-of-state 了 at the end of a sentence.

It's saying they are "combined" into a single 了, i.e., we don't add two 了s like in your example 我吃了了, but just say 我吃了.

The change of state is from "我吃了 (completion 了)" being false to "我吃了 (completion 了)" being true. But this is too nit-picky, and the important thing is that they've eaten.

  • 1
    Hi Becky, thank you for your answer! It helps clear my confusion 🙏
    – Agnes
    Oct 1, 2022 at 11:41
  • 1
    @Agnes If you have another question feel free to ask it separately (but check out Sentences with double 了 first please); it's a Q&A site, after all. The double 了 is quite rare, but it can arise in multiple ways.
    – Becky 李蓓
    Oct 1, 2022 at 11:54

It is very difficult to prove that something is there when it is not there!

Have 2 了combined?

Why would Chinese not like 了了?Seems that sequence only occurs in ... 不 bù 了 liǎo 了 le

Often, people use 啦 instead of 了






This would be partial evidence for the assumption that 2 了 combine, but certainly not an answer to the question: Why?

A principle in Chinese linguistics is: 简洁准则, lex parsimoniae, a principle attributed to William of Ockham:

pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitate
plurality should not be posited without necessity

The assumption that 2 了have combined is unnecessary.

  • Thank you so much for your answer!!! 🙏
    – Agnes
    Oct 2, 2022 at 6:02

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