City University of Hong Kong CLASS CLASS
Making Sense of Grammar
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asked Feb 28 in Questions about Chinese Grammar by Ariel (24,580 points) | 10 views

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Sometimes optional, sometimes necessary.

(a) When 了le is optional

When 没有 is used to ask the affirmative–negative question, 了 is optional if the verb has two characters or has an object following it.

你吃饭(了)没有?(= 你吃饭了吗?)

Nǐ chī fàn (le )méi yǒu?(= Nǐ chī fàn le ma?)

Have you eaten?

你爸爸退休(了)没有?(= 你爸爸退休了吗?) (退休 is a disyllabic verb.)

Nǐ bà bà tuì xiū (le) méi yǒu?(= Nǐ bà bà tuì xiū le ma?)

Has your father retired?

(b) When 了le is necessary

了 is necessary if the verb is monosyllabic and does not have an object following it.

小李做的菜,你吃了没有?(= 小李做的菜,你吃了吗?)

Xiǎo lǐ zuò de cài ,nǐ chī le méi yǒu?(= Xiǎo lǐ zuò de cài ,nǐ chī le ma?)

Have you eaten the food Xiao Li made?

(Do not say 小李做的菜,你吃没有? since the object of 吃 has been pre-posed.)

[1] Yip, P. C., Rimmington, D., Xiaoming, Z., & Henson, R. (2009). Basic Chinese: a grammar and workbook. Taylor & Francis.
answered Feb 28 by Ariel (24,580 points)

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1,274 questions
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7,944 users