Placement of "le" with objects
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The aspectual particle 了 (one of two kinds of 了, AKA "了1" or the "completed action 了"), when placed after a verb, indicates that an action has been completed. What we want to discuss in this article is the use of this 了 when an object is involved.
了 directly followed by an object
- 他今天去见 了朋友。He went to see friends today.
- 我 刚 吃了早饭。I just had breakfast.
- 妈妈 找到 了新 工作。Mom found a new job.
- 你 买了iPhone！You bought an iPhone！
- 昨天 我 给 你 打了电话。I called you yesterday.
If the object placed after the verb is very simple, it is typical to have something modifying the object, such as a number and measure word, an adjective, or 限定性短语, or the sentence should specify a time, place, reason, or method for the action. (If this paragraph gets included, it probably should go somewhere below)
If there is another 了 placed at the end of the sentence, it can add a stronger emphasis that the action was completed, in the same way we might say we "did finish the work" instead of just saying we "finished the work."
- 我 做 了 作业 了， 你 要 看 吗？I did finish my homework. Do you want to see it?
- 我们 来 这儿 以前 吃 了 饭 了。We did have our dinner before we came here .
- 他 问了 经理 了， 经理 说 行。He did ask the manager, and he said yes.
Object with a number and measure word
When the object is preceded by a number and measure word, the 了 is usually placed directly after the verb. It indicates the completion of the action, and shows that the object directly following it is receiving the action of the verb.
- 我 买 了 五 本 他的书。I bought five of his books.
- 他们 昨天 看了 两 场 电影。 They went to see two movies yesterday .
- 他 午饭 花 了 两千多块。He spent more than two thousand kuai on his lunch.
- 你 请 了 几 个 朋友？How many friends have you invited?
- 老师 问 了 五 个 问题 .The teacher asked five questions.
If another 了 is added at the end of the sentence, it indicates two things. One is to emphasize or imply that the number in front of the object is already a big number, and the other is to indicate that this number could continue to grow.
- 我 给 他 打了 十 几 个 电话了 。I've made more than ten phone calls to him.
- 他 帮了 几 十 个 农村 的 孩子 了。 He's helped a few dozen poor kids from the rural area.
- 我 哥哥 换 了 三 个 女朋友 了。 My older brother has had three girlfriends.
If the object has both a number-measure-word pair and a general adjective associated with it, then it is not very suitable to use an extra 了 in the emphatic way described above.
- 我 买 了 五本 有意思的 书 了 。I‘ve bought five interesting books.
A verb-object structured word, such as "看书," "吃饭," or "结婚," a phrase like "结婚了" would simply indicate that the action or state has been completed, whereas "结了婚" would, in addition, indicate that the speaker has more to say or comment on after the phrase.
- 我 已经 下班 了。I‘m off work now.
- 我 下 了 班 就 去 见 你。I‘ll see you as soon as I get off work.
- 他 去年 离婚了 。He got a divorce last year.
- 他 去年 离 了 婚 以后 又 找 了 一 个 女人。After the divorce last year, he found another woman.
In a list of consecutive events, the position of 了 serves to signal the purpose of the events.
- 他 上周 帮 我 搬了家 。He helped me move last week.
- 老板 请 我 吃了 一 顿 大餐。My boss invited me to a big dinner.