I often see words 来, 到 after a verb.

For example:

  • wo hui lai le = 我回来了
  • ta mengdao ni = 他梦到你

When will we use "lai" and "dao" in sentences after a verb? Is there a list of verbs which can be followed by both of them?

  • Hmm, this is two questions which already have an answer, so this is a duplicate. The usage of 来 here is part of the 趋向补语 (directional complement) which I describe here: chinese.stackexchange.com/a/6546/3561 and the usage of 到 is part of the 结果补语 (resultative complement) which I describe here: chinese.stackexchange.com/a/8445/3561
    – Ming
    Commented Jul 16, 2014 at 4:37
  • @Ming Not exact dupe. The first example 我回来了 is the classic 'come/go' question. The second example is close but the linked answer did not cover '来' as a resultative complement.
    – NS.X.
    Commented Jul 21, 2014 at 2:07

2 Answers 2



(verb complement denoting completion or result of an action)

到 can pretty much follow any verb to express that it has been successfully done

  • 看到 = (can) see
  • 听到 = (can) hear
  • 闻到 = (can) smell

来 is noted in KEY as being a:

verb suffix

but the only time I can even think of it being used like this is in the X来X去 construct:

  • 跑来跑去 = running about everywhere
  • 走来走去 = wandering around

The example you gave 回来 is a resultative verb - so you might be misinterpreting it here...if anything you'd be more like to see V+出来.

  • hii, from your answer I think (到), i can say 回到 to say (can) back, 吃到 (can) eat, 去到 (can) go, right?
    – Agoeng Liu
    Commented Jul 16, 2014 at 5:56
  • Yeah but you wouldn't necessarily use these to mean "can blah blah blah." Compare 看不到 (I can't see!) with 看到了 (I saw it -or- I can see). The only time you would use 吃到 would to say "can taste some flavor" like 吃到甜味 (to taste the sweetness). 去到 isn't commonly used but can be to emphasize the action of going somewhere.
    – Mou某
    Commented Jul 16, 2014 at 7:04
  • do you have link for tutorial above ? thanks for your explanation above.
    – Agoeng Liu
    Commented Jul 16, 2014 at 8:06
  • What tutorial do you mean?
    – Mou某
    Commented Jul 16, 2014 at 8:35

Here's maybe a different way to think about 到. In the context you mentioned, 到 here means to have done said action. The state of the action has been brought into existence; it is now a fact. So think of it more like:

  • 看到 = have seen
  • 闻到 = have smelled
  • 吃到 = have eaten/have tasted

That's why in English we say "I can see/smell/taste...", like "I can taste sweetness." It's not saying "I am able to taste" but rather my tasting of sweetness is now a fact. 到 can be used with almost any verb in this context.

In your example of 他梦到你, the 到 here has nothing to do with 你. The 到 here modifies 梦 to say that his dreaming of you (or anything) is a fact. You can't say 他梦來你, since it would not make any sense at all.

來(来) is more literal, denoting arrival at your current location. You don't say, 吃來 or 喝來. But you say, 回來 or 走來.

What might be confusing you with 來 and 到 is another use of 到, which also means arrival, but at any location.

  • 我走到市場 -- I walk to the market (the market can be anywhere)
  • 我走來市場 -- I walk to the market (and that is where I am currently)

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