Result complements come immediately after verbs to indicate that an action has led to a certain result and make that result clear to the listener. Often the complement is simply an adjective like 好 (hǎo) or a single syllable like 完 (wán).
好 (hǎo) implies that something is done to completion or done well. Forming a result complement with 好 has a very similar meaning to forming one with 完. It expresses that the action has been completed successfully.
错 (cuò) is used to express that an action has been performed incorrectly in some way, resulting in a mistake (错). This pattern covers what is often expressed with the adverb "incorrectly" in English.
Other adjectives commonly used as result complements include: 晚 (wǎn), 饱 (bǎo), 坏 (huài), 清楚 (qīngchu), 干净 (gānjìng), 破 (pò).
For the basic structure, you'll almost always see a 了 after the complement:
Subj. + Verb + Adj. + 了 (+ Obj.)
To negate a result complement, use 没 instead of 不:
Subj. + 没 + Verb + Adj. (+ Obj.)
- 你 吃 好 了 吗 ？Are you done eating?
- 对不起 ，我 记 错 了 时间 。Sorry, I misremembered the time.
- 你 来 晚 了 ，我们 已经 关门 了 。You came too late. We're already closed.
- 他 玩 坏 了 哥哥 的 玩具 。He broke his older brother's toy.
- 我 没 吃 饱 。I didn't get full.
- 他 还 没 想 好 。He hasn't thought it through yet.
- 我们 没 听 清楚 ，请 再 说 一遍 。We didn't hear it clearly. Please say it again.
When using result complements, it's very common to make the object a topic. This means the object is moved to the beginning of the sentence and the subject is often omitted.
- 这 个 字 写 错 了。You wrote this character wrong.
- 杯子 摔 坏 了 。The cup is broken.
- 房间 打扫 干净 了 吗 ？Is your room all cleaned up?
Using One-Syllable Verbs
Besides adjectives, there are a few single-syllable verbs which can also be used as result complements. Some examples include 到 (dào), 见 (jiàn), 懂 (dǒng), 会 (huì), 走 (zǒu), 掉 (diào). There really aren't a lot of these, which is part of the reason why these are usually seen as one verb instead of a verb-complement structure.
For the basic structure, you'll often see a 了 after the complement:
Subj. + Verb + [One-syllable Verb] +了 (+ Obj.)
- 你们 都 听 懂 了 吗 ？Do you all understand?
- 我 看 了 ，但是 没 看 懂 。I read it, but I didn't really understand it.
- 你 踩 到 了 我 的 脚 。You're stepping on my foot.
- 我 不小心 撞 到 了 墙 。I hit the wall by accident.
- 我 女儿 学 会 了 数数 。My daughter has learned how to count.
- 我 爸爸 还 没 学 会 用 智能 手机 。My father hasn't learned how to use a smartphone yet.
- 老师 拿 走 了 我 的 iPad 。The teacher took away my iPad.
- 小偷 偷 走 了 我 的 钱包 。The thief stole my wallet.
- 他 不小心 推 倒 了 一 个 老人 。He pushed over an old person by accident.
- 你 撞 倒 了 我 的 自行车 。You knocked over my bike.
- 谁 扔 掉 了 我 的 袜子 ？Who threw away my socks?
- 我 卖 掉 了 我 的 旧 手机 。I sold my old cell phone.
Compared with Potential Complements
|Result Complement||Aff. Potential Complement||Neg. Potential Complement|
|做 完||做 得 完||做 不 完|
|听 懂||听 得 懂||听 不 懂|
|看 清楚||看 得 清楚||看 不 清楚|
|洗 干净||洗 得 干净||洗 不 干净|
Used in 把 Sentences
Although we have avoided 把 sentences in this article for the sake of simplicity, you may have noticed that sentences which feature result complements often also use 把. This is because 把 sentences and result complements work particularly well together, as they both deal with the result of an action or the "disposal" of an object. Apart from result complements involving perception and psychological verbs, most result compounds work nicely in 把 sentences.
- 我 把 杯子 摔 坏 了 。I broke the glass.
- 他 把 我 的 电脑 修 好 了 。He fixed my computer.
- 小偷 把 我 的 钱包 偷 走 了 。The thief made off with my wallet.
- 我们 把 房间 打扫 干净 了 。We've cleaned the room.
- Result complement "xiaqu"
- Advanced result complements
- Result complement "-wan" for finishing
- Result complements "dao" and "jian"
Sources and further reading
- HSK Standard Course 2 (pp. 68) →buy
- HSK Standard Course 3 (pp. 4) →buy
- A Practical Chinese Grammar For Foreigners (外国人实用汉语语法) (pp. 273 - 284) →buy
- Chinese: An Essential Grammar, Second Edition (pp. 97-9) →buy
- Integrated Chinese: Level 1, Part 2 (3rd ed) (pp. 43- 4) →buy
- Integrated Chinese: Level 2, Part 1 (pp. 233-4) →buy
- New Practical Chinese Reader 2 (新实用汉语课本2) (pp. 87 - 88) →buy
- New Practical Chinese Reader 3 (新实用汉语课本3) (pp. 35) →buy
- 40 Lessons for Basic Chinese Course (基础汉语40课上册） (pp. 223) →buy
- Mandarin Essential Grammar (Yale): The Complement of Result