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Change of state with "le"

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Also known as: 了2, change-of-state 了, sentence 了 and modal 了.

了 (le) has many uses. You probably first learned 了 (le) as a particle that tells you an action is completed, which is also known as "了1." However, this article is not about that use of 了 (le); instead, it is about indicating a change of state (了2). In other words, there is now a new situation, or there is about to be a new situation. This whole "change of state" idea can take numerous forms, and this page includes some helpful examples.

Structure

When used in this way, 了(le) is placed at the end of the sentence to show that the whole statement describes a new situation.

[New Situation] + 了

Examples

  • 下 雨 It wasn't raining, but now it isXià yǔ le.It's raining.
  • 妈妈 老 We aren't used to thinking of her as old, but she is nowMāma lǎo le. Mom is old.
  • 你 胖 You used to not be fatNǐ pàng le. You've gotten fat.
  • 家里 没有 牛奶 We had milk beforeJiālǐ méiyǒu niúnǎi le. We don't have any milk at home.
  • 爸爸 今年 50 岁 Seems like just a year ago he was only 49!Bàba jīnnián wǔshí suì le.Dad is 50 years old this year.
  • 手机 没 电 It was working fine until nowShǒujī méi diàn le.The cell phone ran out of power.
  • 宝宝 会 说话 He couldn't beforeBǎobao huì shuōhuà le. The baby can speak.
  • 你哥哥 有 女朋友 吗?He didn't have one beforeNǐ gēge yǒu nǚpéngyou le ma? Does your older brother have a girlfriend?
  • 我 男朋友 找到 新 工作 The lazy bum is finally doing something with himselfWǒ nánpéngyou zhǎodào xīn gōngzuò le. My boyfriend found a new job.
  • 你 老婆 怀孕 吗?I haven't heard that she's pregnant, but...Nǐ lǎopo huáiyùn le ma? Is your wife pregnant?

Too general?

The whole "change of state" concept might seem very general, and it is. That's why it's useful to break this use of 了 (le) down into more specific usages, such as using it to mean "now", "already", or "not anymore".

See Also

Sources and further reading

Books

Websites