The Uses And Rules of the Mandarin Chinese Word “了 (Le)” (Part II)

HSK 3 quiz

In a previous article, I introduced some common usages and grammar rules of “了 (Le).” And in today’s lesson, Part II, I will introduce three more rules and fixed phrases about it.

There are additional rules to follow when using “了 (le):”
(a) “了 (le)” is placed at the end of a sentence to indicate that a new state or a new situation has occurred.

Jīntiān xiàyǔ. 


Jīntiān xiàyǔ le.
It is rainy today.

Although both of these two sentences express almost the same meaning, they are a bit different. By placing the “了 (le)” at the end of the sentence, we now know that it is rainy today, while it wasn’t rainy yesterday.

(b) “了 (le)” can’t be placed after a predicate verb with a frequency adverb modifier, and some verbs which show mental state, or emotions and feelings.

Tā guòqù chángcháng pǎobù.
He used to run.


Tā guòqù chángcháng pǎo le bù.
他过去常常跑了步. X

Wǒ dǎsuàn xué hànyǔ.
I plan to learn Chinese.


Wǒ dǎsuàn le xué hànyǔ.
我打算了学汉语。 X

Upon comparing these two sentences, we know that the second sentence is not the correct expression.

(c) In a sentence, if there is an object which also plays a role as a subject to the second verb, we can’t use “了 (le).”

Tā zuótiān qǐng wǒ chīfàn.
He invited me to have a meal yesterday.


Tā zuótiān qǐng le wǒ chīfàn.
他昨天请了我吃饭。 X

There are also fixed expressions containing “了 (le):”

Gāi ……le
It’s time to……

Gāi chīfàn le
It’s time to have a meal.

Tài ……le
very, very much
(How to Use the Useful Chinese Sentence Structures: “太…了 (Tài…Le)”)
Tài lěng le.
It’s too cold.


    Wǒmen yǐjīng chī le fàn le.
1. 我们已经吃了饭了。
    We already had a meal.

    Xiànzài shíhòu bú zǎo le, gāi shuìjiào le.
2. 现在时候不早了,该睡觉了。
    It’s getting late and it’s time to go to bed.

    Zhè jiàn chènshān tài xiǎo le, wǒ dōu chuān bú xià le.
3. 这件衬衫太小了,我都穿不下了。
    This shirt is too small for me to wear.

Key words from today’s lesson:

跑步 (Pǎobù): run

衬衫 (Chènshān): shirt

(How to Say Different Clothes in Chinese?)
出差 (Chūchāi): to be on a business trip

So, now you are well-versed in the uses and rules of “了(Le).” Do you have any question about it? Share with us here in the comments!

HSK 3 quiz

1. Which of the following is not correct according to the proper usages of “了 (le)?”

    Qiūtiān dào le, yèzǐ dōu luò le.
A. 秋天到了,叶子都落了。

    Tiān kuài hēi le, wǒ yě gāi huíjiā le.
B. 天快黑了,我也该回家了。

    Gōngsī juédìng pài le tā qù chūchāi.
C. 公司决定派了他去出差。

More Chinese Grammar You Want to Learn:

Basic Sentence Patterns in Chinese
Chinese Grammar: “是 (shì)” Sentence (Beginner)
Chinese Grammar Hack: The Many Uses And Rules of “了 (Le)”
HSK Test
General Chinese (Beginner Level) 
General Chinese (Intermediate Level) 

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