That's the mean have 了 here? I've heard it can be index for changing, like before he could came bit now he can't, but I'm not sure. Does it work here? Have it any other meaning(exept the index of past time)?

4 Answers 4


小王不能参加这次招待会了。= he is unable to go. Yes, it most likely indicates a change in the plan. The use of the word 不能 means that it is most likely out of his control.

(1) Based on the conventional rule, the word 了 can indicate the completion of an action, which usually happened in a time of the past. For example,

我吃完饭了。= I completed the action of eating。

她去看电影了。= she completed the action of leaving, but not the action of watching。

我看过这个电影了。= I completed the action of watching.

Sometimes, the word 了 can be used twice in a sentence. For example,

我吃了饭了。= 我吃完饭了。= I completed the action of eating。

我看了这个电影了。= 我看过这个电影了。= I completed the action of watching.

Where the first 了 is just a substitute for 完 or 过, but more colloquial in daily life.

(2) The second usage of the word 了 is to indicate the completion of the start of a progressive action, which can be also called a change of status. In this case, the meaning of the sentence is close to 是,有, or 觉得。 For example,

我累了。= I am tired.

我到家了。= I am home now.

大雨下了一整天。= It has rained for the whole day.

结婚不久,我们就有了一个小孩儿。= We had a child not long after we married.

But it can be a little bit different if used in the following case,

我到了家,发现门是敞开的。= I found the door is widely opened the moment I got home.

(3) In many cases the word 了 is not necessary but just for expressing a mood or feeling. It can also be used to show politeness and softness in a dialogue. For example,


女人说:我不去。= very rigid.

女人说:我不去了。= some level of soft.

女人说:我不能去了。= soft, maybe for some reason.

女人说:我不想去了。= very soft, maybe you can change her mind.

*** 我太累了,也太晚了,今天不想再写了。(-:

  • Thank for such a detailed answer! But that's the mean has second 了 in the 我吃了饭了(and 我吃完饭了)? Does 吃了 mean completely, (我吃了饭)了 in the end - past time?coz i supposed 了 can be used in the past/completely meaning only after verbs. Does it using here like in the end of sentence(and in the meaning of changing/informal form/regret), or it can also use after nouns?
    – Atsve
    Mar 15, 2023 at 11:32
  • Most likely the word 了 at the end of a sentence means "It is done" and it was an action at a time before. It does not have to be with a noun. For example, 苹果变红 (adjective),钱花完了 (adverb)。
    – PdotWang
    Mar 15, 2023 at 15:26

小王不能参加这次招待会 小王 can't make it to this event

小王不能参加这次招待会了 小王 decided not to attend / something made/stopped 小王 not able to attend.

You're right that he/she might have agreed at some point earlier, but can't say for sure. I normally use 了 in a sentence like this.


There was a slight regret (惋惜; 遗憾) in the speaker's mind that "too bad, he should have attended, but he can't make it". Without "了", the sentence is more of a formal statement without feelings involved.


When the sentence particle 了 is used, it indicates that:

  1. The time zone T associated with the speaker is susceptible of locating a process P (as T is only susceptible of locating P, it may eventually locate P or non-P), and
  2. That P or non P is effectually located in T.

In a sentence like "小王不能参加这次招待会", there is no such expectation: it just so happens that 小王 cannot attend.

However, when 了 is used in "小王不能参加这次招待会了", there is an undertone of "at last the result is out: it is non-P".

Depending on the context, the expectation can either be positive (something that we look forward to) or negative (something that we fear will happen). If it is positive, then it is a pity that 小王不能参加这次招待会. If it is negative, then it is a relief.

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