Sometimes I find it hard to distinguish between

a) 了1 (completion of action) and

b) 了2 (change of state).

In the following examples, I couldn't find out what kind 了 it is?

  1. 我不能和你一起去买自行车了.

    a) I couldn't come with you.

    b) (Now) I can't come with you. (Before I could).

  2. 我爸爸昨天没有回家,我想我应该自己做了。

a) I should have done myself and completed this task.

b) (Now in this new situation) I have to do it myself. (Before my father used to help me)

  1. 那匹马往咱们这儿跑来了,我觉得它跑得非常快。

    I have no idea about the function of 了 in this one.

  2. 他们看见一个大黑熊走过来了。

    a) The bear came here.

    b) The bear started to come here. (Coming of bear is a new situation)

  3. 往前走三分钟,就到八号楼了。

a) After three minutes, act of reaching will be completed.

b) After three minutes, you will start to reach.

1 Answer 1


Let's review the uses of 了:

I. Used after a verb to indicate perfective aspect (action completion). The pattern is V + 了 + object.

  • 我吃了一個蘋果. ― I ate an apple. / I have eaten an apple.

II. Used at the end of a sentence to A) indicate a change of state, or B) to inform the beginning of an action.

  • A) 他是大學生了. ― He has become a college student. / He is a college student now.

  • B) 我走了. ― I'm leaving now.

Here are my opinions on your questions:

  1. 我不能和你一起去买(自行车)了. (IIA)

b) I can't come with you to purchase the bicycle (now).

  1. 我爸爸昨天没有回家,我想我应该自己做了。(IIA)

b) I think I have to do it myself (now).

  1. 那匹马往咱们这儿跑来了. (IIB) [那匹马往咱们这儿跑来.] (I)

That horse runs toward us

  1. 他们看见一个大黑熊走过来了。(IIB) 他们看见一个大黑熊走过来.

b) They see a black bear coming by.

  1. 往前走三分钟,就到八号楼了。(IIB) 往前走三分钟,就到八号楼.

b) After three minutes, you will then reach building 8.

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