Usage of le


I'm using the book A Practical Chinese Grammar to accompany the Practical Chinese Reader II. The PGR is an excellent book and the authors explain grammar very well. I'm puzzled at two of the example sentences, though, and wondered if anyone could explain them for me.

The first is
Wo3 xue2hui4le qi2 zi4xing2che1 le
on page 353. Initially I didn't know why the first le was there, but after more reading I assume it is because the person wanted to emphasize that they finished the learning process.

The second sentence is
Wo3 xue2hui4 you2 yong3 le
on page 356. I would guess that if the first sentence needs the perfective le then the second one should, too. They both have verb-object constructions, although bicycle is a bit more concrete of an object. Could anyone explain why the two sentence differ on the perfective le?


In a sentence with both les it means the verb action has been going on for sometime but is still continuing. With only the final le it means the action is complete and/or no longer continuing.

Thus in the first sentence the person is still learning to ride the bicycle and in the second sentence has learned how to swim and is no longer taking lessons.

A very commen occurrence of the first structure for students taking Chinese classes is to be asked how long they have been studying Chinese and to reply for example "Wo3 xue2 le san1 ge4 yue4 le".


Are you sure about this? I know that the second le in a sentence with a time-measure complement indidcates that the action continues, but I didn't know that this applies to other types of sentences.


It was explained to me that the time-measure complement does not need to be specifically stated. Rather it is accepted that some time was involved but is not important enough to state exactly what amount.

This was explained to me not by a teacher but by a person with a very good education and from a family of academics so I accept it as correct. However, I have even seen teachers argue points of grammar so no guarantees.


use of 'le'

My wife (who is chinese) is of the opinion that between the two examples given the first is simply more casual, more spoken. The meaning is the same (cha bu duo . .)

Henry (new user! first post!)


The confuxing le ...

I have been told there is at least one PhD thesis on the use of "le" on the web somewhere - cant find it and would probably not understand the core of it anyway.

You could take the Chinglish approach and accept it either way. OK le?