了 indicating a change in the situation

Besides the function of “indicating that an action has been completed”, “了” can also indicates a change in the situation. E.g. in this sentence “她胖了(She is fat)”, “了” indicates that “She is thin before, but now she is fat.”

Structure 1: used with adjectives.

S Adjective
māmɑ shòu le.
妈妈 了。

Mom is thin now. (Indicating: Mom has lost some weight.)

dōnɡxi ɡuì le.
东西 了。

Things are expensive now.(Indicating: Things were not expensive before.)

yīfu zānɡ le.
衣服 了。

The clothes are dirty. (Indicating: They were not dirty before.)

Structure 2: used with equative verbs (EV).

S (不) EV N
xiǎolǐ shì bàbɑ le.
小李 爸爸 了。

Xiao Li is a father now. (Indicating: Xiao Li was not a father before.)

bú shì xiǎohái’ér le
不 是 小孩儿 了。

You are not a kid now. (Indicating: You are a kid before.)

bú jiào zhānɡměi le.
不 叫 张美 了。

She is not called Xiao Mei now. (Indicating: She was called Xiao Mei before.)

Structure 3: used with action verbs

S (不) V N
yǒu qián le.
了。

He has money now. (Indicating: He didn’t have much money before.)

méi yǒu nǚpénɡyǒu le.
没 有 女朋友 了。

He doesn’t have a girlfriend now. (Indicating: He had a girlfriend before.)

xiǎolì bú ài le.
小丽 不 爱 了。

Xiao Li doesn’t love him now. (Indicating: Xiao Li loved him before.)

Structure 4: used with auxiliary verbs (AV).

S (不) AV V-O
bù xiǎnɡ qù měiɡuó le.
不 想 去 美国 了。

I don’t want to go to the U.S. now. (Indicating: I wanted to go to the U.S. before.)

bú yuànyì jiàɡěi nǐ le.
不 愿意 嫁给 你 了。

I am not willing to marry you now. (I was willing to marry you before.)

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