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Result complements "dao" and "jian"

Two of the most common result complements in Chinese are 到 (dào) and 见 (jiàn). On this page we're only going to be talking about verbs related to the senses ("see," hear," etc.), and for this usage, the two are interchangeable.

Verb with 到 (dào) and 见 (jiàn)

Structure

Result complements are a huge topic in Chinese grammar, but you can approach them in stages. The structure you come across the most is a verb with 到 (dào):

Subj. + Verb + 到 + Obj.

What 到 (dào) does is indicate that the outcome of the verb is achieved - what its result is. Without a result complement, the sentence would describe only the action itself. To illustrate, 看 (kàn) "to look" is the action of turning your head in a particular direction and focusing your eyes, whereas 看到 (kàn dào)," to see," is the result of your brain taking in the visual input. It may sound a little hokey, but it really is possible to "look but not see," and Chinese makes a clear distinction between the action and the result.

The complement 见 (jiàn) is very similar to 到 (dào), and it is used in the same way:

Subj. + Verb + 见 + Obj.

However, there is a difference. 见 (jiàn) is generally only used after verbs involving one of the senses, like 听 (tīng) and 看 (kàn), whereas 到 (dào) can be attached to a large variety of verbs, which we will discuss at a higher level later.

Examples

  • 那 个 帅哥 了 吗 ? kàn jiàn nàge shuàigē le ma? Did you see that handsome guy?
  • 那 个 帅哥 了 吗 ? kàn dào nàge shuàigē le ma? Did you see that handsome guy?
  • 了 。 We didn't say what "I" saw; you have to base it on context.kàn jiàn le. I saw him.
  • 了 。 kàn dào le. I saw him.
  • 了 吗 ? tīng jiàn le ma? Did you hear it?
  • 了 吗 ? tīng dào le ma? Did you hear it?

Negative Form

Structure

Subj. + 没 + Verb + 到 / 见 + Obj.

This structure can be negated using 没 (méi).

Examples

  • 那 个 帅哥 吗 ? méi kàn dào nàge shuàigē ma? You didn't see that handsome guy?
  • 那 个 帅哥 吗 ? méi kàn jiàn nàge shuàigē ma? You didn't see that handsome guy?
  • 没有méiyǒu kàn dào. I didn't see him.
  • 没有We didn't say what "I" didn't see; you have to base it on context.méiyǒu kàn jiàn. I didn't see him.
  • 吗 ? méi tīng dào ma? You didn't hear it?
  • 吗 ? méi tīng jiàn ma? You didn't hear it?

See also

Sources and further reading

Books