The Negative Form of 了

The negative of action completed - In order to deny that an action has been completed or to state that an event has not occurred, 没(or 没有) is prefixed to the Action Verb. Questions can be formed by adding 吗 to the end of the sentence. Note that 了 is therefore not used in this type of sentence.

S TW 没(有) V-O
jīntiān méi shàngkè.
今天 上课。

I didn’t have classes today.

méi shàngbān ma?
上班 吗?

Didn’t you go to work yesterday?

zǎoshàng méi chīfàn ma?
早上 吃饭 吗?

Didn't you have breakfast?

In order to indicate that the action has not yet happened (but probably will happen before too long), 还 is inserted before 没.

S 没(有) V-O
hái méi chīfàn.
吃饭。

I haven't eaten yet.

yǎnchànghuì hái méi jiéshù.
演唱会 结束。

The concert is not over yet.

hái méi jiéhūn.
结婚。

He's not married yet.

When not to use 了

了 is not used for these types of past events for the reason that they could never be considered as the completion of an action. Normally a Time Word is sufficient to tell that the event is in the past.

TW S A/EV Adjective/N
jīnnián dàsuàn hěn guì.
今年 大蒜 贵。

Garlic was very expensive this year.

xiǎoshíhou hěn cōngmíng.
小时候 聪明。

He was very clever when he was young.

zhōngxuédeshíhou wǒmen shì hǎopéngyǒu.
中学的时候 我们 好朋友。

We were good friends when we were in high school.

qùnián shì wǒde nǚpéngyǒu.
去年 我的女朋友。

Last year, she was my girl friend.

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