Tricky uses of "dao"

(Redirected from ASGCUSIV)

You probably learned the result complement -到 a long time ago, as part of words like 看到 ("to see") and 听到 ("to hear"). But other times it's less clear what the -到 really means. Like the difference between 买 and 买到 or 做 and 做到. What -到 adds is a clearer message that something has really been achieved.

The Difference a -到 Makes

Adding -到 after a verb makes it very clear that the desired result was achieved. If you looked and you saw, then 到 indicates that. On the other hand, not adding 到 makes it unclear whether or not the desired result was achieved. It can have the effect of making a verb mean "try to verb." So 做 without -到 is kind of like "try to do," but when you want to make it very clear that results were achieved or must be achieved, that's when you want to add -到.

Let's look at another example. The difference between 找 and 找到 is that 找 means "to search" (in other words, "to try to find"), whereas 找到 means "to find," that the search was successful, and results were achieved. So if one were to say "你一定要找," it would mean "you must try to find it" and "你一定要找到" means "you must find it."

Illustrative Examples

做 vs. 做到

It's often assumed that if you're going to 做 something, it'll be to completion. But if there's ever any doubt, or a situation where "to completion" needs to be made crystal clear, use 做到.

  • 我 还 没有 Wǒ hái méiyǒu zuò.I haven‘t done it.
  • 我 下 个 星期 可以 Wǒ xià gè xīngqī kěyǐ zuò.I can do it next week.
  • 我 相信 你 一定 能 Wǒ xiāngxìn nǐ yīdìng néng zuòdào.I believe you will be able to do it.

买 vs. 买到

买 is another one where success is normally assumed, but every now and then it's not so easy to just buy something. That's where 买到 comes in handy.

  • 我 还 没有 Wǒ hái méiyǒu mǎi.I haven't bought it yet.
  • 我 没 Wǒ méi mǎidào.I wasn't able to buy it.
  • 这里 不 到 进口 食品 。Zhèlǐ mǎibu dào jìnkǒu shípǐn.You can't buy imported good here.

学 vs. 学到

You know how when you're studying, you know information is going into your brain, but you're not sure how well it's really sticking? Well, when you're sure of what's stuck, you can use 学到.

  • 我 想 中文 。Wǒ xiǎng xué Zhōngwén.I want to study Chinese.
  • 我们 今天 了 很 多 生词 。Wǒmen jīntiān xué le hěn duō shēngcí.Today we studied many new words.
  • 在 这个 公司 工作 ,我 了 很 多 东西。Zài zhège gōngsī gōngzuò, wǒ xuédào le hěn duō dōngxi.Working for this company, I learned a lot of things.

拿 vs. 拿到

A simple act of physically picking something up or taking something usually involves 拿. When the object becomes some kind of hard-to-get document, however, 拿到 is useful.

  • 小包 ,我 大包 。 xiǎo bāo, wǒ dà bāo.You take the small bag, I'll take the big bag.
  • 不 知道 什么 时候 能 我 的 工作 签证 。Bù zhīdào shénme shíhou néng dào wǒ de gōngzuò qiānzhèng.I'm not sure when I'll be able to get my work visa.
  • 如果 他 不 到 绿卡 ,我 就 跟 他 分手 。Rúguǒ tā ná bu dào lǜkǎ, wǒ jiù gēn tā fēnshǒu.If he can't get a green card, I will break up with him.

想 vs. 想到

If you think of 想 as "looking for ideas," then 想 and 想到 are very similar to 找 and 找到. One difference, though, is that 没想到 means "never imagined." It's not that you tried to think of something and failed, it's just that the idea never occurred to you.

  • 一定 要 一 个办法 。Yīdìng yào xiǎng yī gè bànfǎ.You have to think of a way.
  • 了 什么 好 办法 ?xiǎngdào le shénme hǎo bànfǎ?Have you thought of anything good yet?
  • 我们 都 没 他 这么 生气 。Wǒmen dōu méi xiǎngdào tā zhème shēngqì.None of us imagined that he would be so mad.

追 vs. 追到

This one is tricky, because "pursue" is a metaphor, and there's no obvious result. "Catch" sounds way too misogynistic and old-fashioned. 追到 actually involves more than just effort on the part of the pursuer; you have to move the girl's (or guy's) heart.

  • 怎么 女孩子 ?Zěnme zhuī nǚ háizi?How do you pursue a girl?
  • 那 个 女孩子 ,你 了吗 ?Nàge nǚháizi, nǐ zhuīdào le ma? That girl, did you win her over yet?
  • 如果 你 她 了 ,我 就 请 你 喝酒 。Rúguǒ nǐ zhuīdào tā le, wǒ jiù qǐng nǐ hējiǔ.If you can really win her over, I'll treat you to drinks.

了解 vs. 了解到

了解 indicates some kind of deep understanding, often one that only comes over a long period of time. But if you suddenly get some new in-depth information, 了解到 may be appropriate.

  • 我 不 太 了解 这个 人 。Wǒ bù tài liǎojiě zhège rén.I don't really know this person well.
  • 我们 刚刚 了解 一些 新 的 消息 。Wǒmen gānggāng liǎojiě dào yīxiē xīn de xiāoxī.We just acquired some new information.
  • 从 他 那里 ,我 了解 了 真相 。Cóng tā nàlǐ, wǒ liǎojiě dào le zhēnxiàng.I learned the real truth of the matter from him.

联系 vs. 联系到

You can think of 联系 as "initiate contact" and 联系到 as "establish contact."

  • 我们 怎么 联系Wǒmen zěnme liánxì?How do we get in contact?
  • 你 知道 他 的 联系 方式 吗 ?Nǐ zhīdào tā de liánxì fāngshì ma?Do you have his contact information?
  • 我 想 跟 你 联系 ,但是 一直 联系 不 到 你 。Wǒ xiǎng gēn nǐ liánxì, dànshì yīzhí liánxì bu dào nǐ.I wanted to get in touch with you, but could never reach you.