When used as a resultative complement, -着 (zháo) expresses that the action has reached its purpose or has had an outcome. It can also be used as a potential complement, meaning "able to."
Resultative Complement -着
All you have to do is put -着 after the verb. Remember that it should be something that you can reach or achieve. It could be a purpose, or it can be producing an outcome or an influence.
Verb + 着
- 宝宝 刚 睡着。The baby just fell asleep.
- 你 的 手机 找着 了 吗？Did you find your cell phone?
- 超市 关门 了 ，你 要 的 东西 我 没 买着 。The supermarket is closed. I didn't buy things that you need.
- 我 终于 见着 你 了。I have finally met you.
- 最近 太 忙 了，他 累着 了。I've been so busy lately, he's tired.
You might be wondering: "why the heck would I use this instead of 到?" Hey, excellent question... we like the way you think! But native speakers do use 着 fairly often (especially in the north), so it's something you need to know. Also, 睡着 (shuì zháo), meaning "fall asleep," is an exception in that it is incorrect to say *睡到 to mean "fall asleep."
Potential Complements -得着 and -不着
Verb + 得着 / 不着
When used with 得 or 不, 着 functions as a potential complement, and denotes that one's one's ability is up (or not) to the task in question.
- 现在 买 不 着 这样 的 衣服 了。You can't buy such clothes now.
- 晚上 我 睡 不 着 的 时候 就 看书。At night when can't get to sleep, I read a book.
- 我 的 手机 找 不 着 了。I can't find my cell phone.
- 这么 晚 了，买 得 着 吗？It's so late already, can we buy it?
- 我 在 国外 吃 不 着 地道 的 中国 菜 。Outside of China, I can't get authentic Chinese food.