position of LE: differences in meaning

September 01, 2013, 08:21 PM posted in Grammar Questions

Hey guys,

I was wondering if someone can tell me what the difference in meaning is in the following sentences when LE is placed after the verb and at the end of the sentence:



Shang ge xingqi wo dao chaoshi

‘I went to the supermarket last week’



Shang  ge   xingqi wo diu   wo de  qianbao

 ‘Last week I lost my wallet.’



 Shangci ta zhan zai nar

‘Last time he stood there.’



 Ta  shangci  deng ni

‘Last time he waited for you.’



Shang ci ta deng ni yi huir.

‘Last time he waited for you for a while.'



Ta  zai chuangshang tang yi huir

‘He lay on the bed for a while.’


Also, I assume that LE is not possible sentence-finally in sentences like 'ta zai nar zuo ji ge xiaoshi'. Is this correct?


Many thanks!

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September 01, 2013, 11:28 PM

From what I based on my feeling is that:

1: You don't need 了 unless you are going to follow it with an activity like:

Shang ge xingqi wo dao chaoshi maile shuiguo.

When using dao by itself I wouldn't expect to see a le unless it has just happen like wo dao jia le.

2: I would say diu le

3: Because it's not a single complete action I wouldn't feel it appropriate to be le.

4: As this sentence stands as it is, I feel it to be incomplete, I would personally put haojiu afterwards, I think le is optional in this case.

5: Optional I think

6: I would put le after the verb here.

7: I would put it after the verb, because the generally rule that is taught it le at the end of the sentence represents change, but thats' not a solid rule.

All these comments are based on what I feel is normal and common to see or hear, so it could be a little wrong in places.

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September 05, 2013, 08:57 PM

My understanding is that in 1 and 2 native speakers would use le after the verb.... and I think it would be incorrect to put le at the end of the sentence in 1 and 2 because of the presence of the time expression 'last week' which make it a fixed time in the past and so a change of state reading isn't possible (which is what sentence-final le often means). Maybe a native speaker can confirm/add to that?

In the last sentence I think le could go at the end and it would mean that the lying continued until the present, whereas after the verb it means it definitely finished in the past. Or perhaps some native speakers might feel it is incorrect/less natural with le at the end, so after the verb would be more common? Again, a native speaker could clarify this. 

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For the first one I don't think they would use le, dao is a bit different. My proof being if you put ”我上个星期到超市“ in Google with quotation marks and then ”我上个星期到了超市“, you'll find that the second isn't used.

In terms of using le when talking about last week or last month or a year a go, I think the rule can be a bit different. I remember I was totally confused and I ended up using le for almost every sentence when I was talking in the past because I thought I needed it. It just all depends on the situation I suppose.

For the last one, it kind of depends on the context, for example: