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Expressing experiences with "guo"

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The aspect particle 过 (guo) is used to indicate that an action has been experienced in the past.

Basic Pattern

Structure

Subj. + Verb + 过 + Obj.

What this expresses is that the verb has been done at least once before, without specifying a particular time. 过 (guo) is used to talk about whether something has ever happened - whether it has been experienced.

Examples

In English, if you're asking a question and really trying to figure out if someone has ever done something before, we tend to use the words "ever" and "before." In Chinese, 过 (guo) alone expresses this, without the need for additional words.

  • 你 学 中文 吗? Nǐ xué guo Zhōngwén ma? Have you ever studied Chinese?
  • 你 见 那 个 人 吗? Nǐ jiàn guo nàge rén ma? Have you seen that person before?
  • 我们 来 这 个 地方。Wǒmen lái guo zhège dìfang. We've been to this place before.
  • 我 也 吃 日本菜。 Wǒ yě chī guo Rìběn cài. I've also eaten Japanese food before.
  • 你 看 这 个 电影 吗 ? Nǐ kàn guo zhège diànyǐng ma? Have you seen this movie?

Negating a 过 (guo) Sentence

Because 过 (guo) is used to talk about past actions, it should be negated with 没 (méi).

Structure

Subj. + 没 + Verb + 过 + Obj.

Examples

Note that when you translate these examples into English, "have never" [done something] is often more natural, indicating that someone lacks the experience of having done something, rather than just "have not" [done something].

  • 这 个 问题。méi xiǎng guo zhège wèntí. I've never thought about this question before.
  • 这 个 词 。 méi xué guo zhège cí. I have never studied this word before.
  • 妈妈 很 贵 的 衣服。 Māma méi mǎi guo hěn guì de yīfu. Mom has never bought any expensive clothes before.
  • 我们 都 飞机。 Wǒmen dōu méi zuò guo fēijī. None of us has ever been on a airplane before.
  • 你们 美女 吗?Nǐmen méi jiàn guo měinǚ ma? Have you never seen beautiful girls before?

To emphasize "never" even more, you can also use the word 从来 (cónglái).

Using 过 (guo) with 了 (le)

You'll sometimes see 过 (guo) used together with 了 (le). This can be a little confusing, as it doesn't seem to be following the rules laid out above. For more on this special usage of 过 (guo), see the article on using 过 (guo) with 了 (le).

See Also

Sources and further reading

Books

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