Lesson Notes

Unlock In-Depth Explanations & Exclusive Takeaways with Printable Lesson Notes

Unlock Lesson Notes and Transcripts for every single lesson. Sign Up for a Free Lifetime Account and Get 7 Days of Premium Access.

Or sign up using Facebook
Already a Member?

Lesson Transcript

Hi, everybody! Yinru here. You're watching Chinese whiteboard lessons. In this lesson, we're going to talk about the differences between 了 (le) and 过 (guò). These two words are usually used after verbs to describe actions that happened in the past. For example, “Did you eat / Have you eaten?”. In Chinese. you can say 你吃了吗 (Nǐ chīle ma) or 你吃过了吗 (Nǐ chīguòle ma). But how are these two words different from each other? Now, let's all take a closer look together.
If you put 了 (le) after the verb, you emphasize on the action. If you put 过 (guò) after the verb, you emphasize on the experience. That being said, verb + 了 (le) or 动词加上“了” (dòngcí jiā shàng “le”), in these cases, the status stays the same. But if you have verb + 过 (guò) or 动词加上“过” (dòngcí jiā shàng “guò”), the status might be different. I know it's a little bit hard to understand. I have three pairs of examples here. Hopefully, they will help you have a better understanding.
So the first group…
听说他结了婚。 (Tīng shuō tā jiéle hūn.)
听说他结过婚。 (Tīng shuō tā jiéguò hūn.)
Do they have different meanings? Yes. The first one - 听说他结了婚 (Tīng shuō tā jiéle hūn), 结了婚 (jiéle hūn) is an action that he got married, and he got married and he's still married. This is the implied part.
他结过婚 (tā jiéguò hūn) means he has been married before and he's probably or he is not married now. He has the experience of getting married but he's now not married. That's why I said here, this 了 (le) emphasizes on the action, the 过 (guò) emphasizes on the experience. If you use 了 (le), it’s most likely the status stays the same, but if you use 过 (guò), the case will be different. He's been married before, but now he's not.
Now let's look at another two sentences.
家里来了客人。 (Jiālǐ láile kèrén.)
家里来过客人。 (Jiālǐ láiguò kèrén.)
What does the first sentence mean? 家里 (jiālǐ) means “home / house”. 家 (jiā) means “home / house”, 来 (lái) is “to come”, 客人 (kèrén) “guests / visitors”. The first one actually means “We have some guests / Our place/our house has some guests now.”. The guests came and they're still here. That's what the sentence really means.
家里来过客人 (Jiālǐ láiguò kèrén), 来过 (láiguò) here means it's the experience or that something happened in the past and the case is different, the status is different now, so “We had some guests. / Our place had some guests or visitors and they're not here now.”
Okay, the third one should be easier for you to understand now after all the explanations.
我最好的朋友十年前去了美国。 (Wǒ zuì hǎo de péngyǒu shí nián qián qùle Měiguó.) VS 我最好的朋友十年前去过美国。 (Wǒ zuì hǎo de péngyǒu shí nián qián qùguò Měiguó.)
So 去了美国 (qùle Měiguó) is the action, she went to the U.S. and she's still here, I mean she’s still in the U.S. She went there and she stayed.
去过美国 (qùguò Měiguó), it implies that she's been to the U.S. and she is back now. It's her experience. Being to or going to the U.S. is part of her experience and she is back now. So the status is different. Okay, so I hope I made it very clear for you, the difference between 了 (le) and 过 (guò). 了 (Le) emphasizes/focuses on the action that happened in the past and 过 (guò) talks more about the experience. So the experience they have and now is not the same, but 了 (le) very likely or in most cases, I would say generally, I'm sure there will be exceptions. Nothing is absolute, but most likely, 了 (le), when you see 了 (le), the status will stay the same, okay.
Sometimes we can put 过了 (guòle) together. It is basically the same as 过 (guò) so when you use 过了 (guòle), you also mean an experience and the status might be different now. So instead of - 听说他结过婚 (Tīng shuō tā jiéguò hūn), you can also say - 听说他结过了婚 (Tīng shuō tā jiéguòle hūn) and 家里来过客人 (Jiālǐ láiguò kèrén) “We had some guests. / Our place had some guests.” we can also say - 家里来过了客人 (Jiālǐ láiguòle kèrén), and 我最好的朋友十年前去过了美国 (Wǒ zuì hǎo de péngyǒu shí nián qián qùguòle Měiguó), 去过了 (qùguòle) and 去过 (qùguò), they’re almost the same. 过 (guò) and 过了 (guòle), they are interchangeable in most cases.
The next grammar point I'd like to talk about is a type of verbs in Chinese that consists of two parts; the action part and the complement part. So if there are two words in this kind of verb, the first part or the first word will be the action and the second word will be the complement. They can be a verb + adjective or verb + a noun, but here I'd like to talk about verb + noun type of verb. Like this one - 结婚 (jiéhūn). Together it’s a verb, but it consists of 结 (jié), the action / the verb, and 婚 (hūn) the complement / the noun.
So how do you say someone got married or has been married? Well, there are a few different ways. So here, the first way is - 结婚了 (jiéhūnle), the most simple one. Just put a 了 (le) after 结婚 (jiéhūn) or after the whole verb - 结婚了 (jiéhūnle).
Or you can put the 了 (le) in between, in the middle of these two parts. So you can put 了 (le) here or here. You can say - 结了婚 (jiéle hūn), 结了婚 (jiéle hūn), okay. These two are the actions, the action that happened in the past.
If you want to emphasize it, if you want to emphasize on experience, we use 过 (guò) or 过了 (guòle) right? So we can put the 过 (guò) between these two parts or we can say - 结过婚 (jiéguò hūn) or 结过了婚 (jiéguòle hūn), it’s the same, or you can say - 结过婚 (jiéguò hūn) and 了 (le), 结过婚了 (jiéguò hūnle). So you put the 过 (guò) in between with the 了 (le).
So here are a few, I know there are five ways to describe something that happened in the past with this this type of verb so we have 结婚 (jiéhūn). We can say - 结婚了 (jiéhūnle), 结了婚 (jiéle hūn), 结过婚 (jiéguò hūn), 结过了婚 (jiéguòle hūn) and 结过婚了 (jiéguò hūnle).
Okay, here’s another verb that follows this rule. Verb is 洗 (xǐ) means “to wash” and 澡 (zǎo) is the noun and the complement here. 澡 (zǎo) can either mean “shower / bath”. So to say, “He took a shower. / He has taken a shower.” , you can say - 他洗澡了 (Tā xǐzǎole). The first one is the most simple one. You just put 了 (le) after the verb or you can put them in between - 他洗了澡 (Tā xǐle zǎo) or 他洗过澡 (Tā xǐguò zǎo), 他洗过了澡 (Tā xǐguòle zǎo) or the last one probably is the most difficult one, but it's more fun. So - 洗 (xǐ) verb, 过 (guò) and 澡 (zǎo) noun and 了 (le) - 他洗过澡了 (Tā xǐguò zǎole).
Okay, but here when you say 洗澡了 (xǐzǎole) and 洗过澡 (xǐguò zǎo), they both mean he took a shower. So in this case, the 洗了澡 (xǐle zǎo) or 洗过澡 (xǐguò zǎo) doesn't have many differences. They basically mean the same thing, “He took a shower.”. So there are verbs or words like this. They don't really differentiate from each other. They have basically the same meaning, but this is still the general rule. We should remember that. So let's try this word 踢球 (tī qiú). 踢 (tī) is the verb and 球 (qiú) is the noun / the complement here. So how do you say “kicked the ball / has kicked the ball” in Chinese? Let's try it together. So first, we can put 了 (le) after the word so you can say - 踢球了 (tī qiúle). Second, you can say - 踢了球 (tīle qiú). Also put 过 (guò) and 过了 (guòle) in between 踢过球 (tīguò qiú), 踢过了球 (tīguòle qiú). The last one - 踢过球了 (tīguò qiúle). Great! You got it now.
Okay, we have more exercises in the quiz section, okay. In today's quiz section, I have five English sentences and I like you to tell me if A sentence or B sentence would be a better translation for the English. Let's take a look together.
第一个 (Dì yī gè) the first one…
“I have had chicken pox.” It's an experience. I have had that, now I don't have it. So experience and different status, it's A - 我得过水痘 (Wǒ déguò shuǐdòu.) 我得过水痘 (Wǒ déguò shuǐdòu), but if you say - 我得了水痘 (Wǒ déle shuǐdòu), it means I got this 水痘 (shuǐdòu) “this condition” and I still have it so I I have chicken pox now. It actually means that. We can just substitute this with other conditions such as cold. If you say - 我得了感冒 (Wǒ déle gǎnmào) that means that “I have a cold now. / I caught a cold and I still have the cold.” So this is the difference and we choose A. I need to circle it.
The second one…
“My mother passed away two years ago.” “My mother passed away two years ago.” Would you say - 两年前 (Liǎng nián qián), 两年前我的母亲去世了 (Liǎng nián qián wǒ de mǔqīn qùshìle) or 两年前我的母亲去世过 (Liǎng nián qián wǒ de mǔqīn qùshìguò). So passed away is an action that happened in the past and you cannot pass away and be back to life again right? So the status stays the same and it's an action so we choose A - 去世了 (qùshìle). If you say - 去世过 (qùshìguò), it sounds like someone passed away and now they're back in life. It does not happen at least in our universe.
Okay, the third one…
“She has worked before.” Very clear, it's an experience that's in the past - she's worked before. So - 她在这里工作过 (Tā zài zhèlǐ gōngzuòguò.) “She has worked before.” Oh so far we got all A's okay.
The next one…
“He's been running for two hours.” So he’s been running and he’s still running, the status is the same. We have - 他已经跑了两个小时 (Tā yǐjīng pǎole liǎng gè xiǎoshí) or 他已经跑过两个小时 (Tā yǐjīng pǎoguò liǎng gè xiǎoshí). Right… A matches. But when you say - 他已经跑过两个小时 (Tā yǐjīng pǎoguò liǎng gè xiǎoshí) you actually implied that he probably in sometime early in the day, he ran for two hours. Now, he's not running anymore, but he did two hours, I mean sometime early, you don't know when. So if you want to say, “He's been running for two hours.”, you can say - 他已经跑了两个小时了 (Tā yǐjīng pǎole liǎng gè xiǎoshíle), 他还在跑 (tā hái zài pǎo) “He’s still running.”
The last one…
“Did you close the door?” “Did you close the door?” So shall we say - 你关门了吗 (Nǐ guānménle ma) or 你关过门吗 (Nǐ guānguò mén ma). Which one would you choose? Hmm, it's A again, okay. 关门了吗 (guānménle ma) means “Did you close the door?”, but 关过门吗 (guānguò mén ma) you actually mean that “Have you closed the door and then opened it again?” It's actually what this implies - 关过门吗 (guānguò mén ma). Maybe you closed it and you opened it back up. 关门了吗 (guānménle ma), 关门了吗 (guānménle ma) means “just close it”, okay. Now, this word - 关门 (guānmén), it's a verb. That is also this type, action + complement, verb + noun type of verb. So instead of 关门了 (guānménle), we can also say - 关了门 (guānle mén). 你关门了吗 (Nǐ guānménle ma), 你关了门吗 (Nǐ guānle mén ma). For this sentence, other than - 你关过门吗 (Nǐ guānguò mén ma), we can also say - 你关过了门吗 (Nǐ guānguòle mén ma) or 你关过门了吗 (Nǐ guānguò ménle ma).
All right, this is the end of this lesson. Well, if you have more questions or if you have more examples that you'd like to share, please put them in the comment section below and I’d like to discuss them with you together. Thanks for watching! I'll see you in the next lesson. 我们下次课再见吧。 (Wǒmen xià cì kè zàijiàn ba.) Bye-bye everyone.

5 Comments

Hide
Please to leave a comment.
😄 😞 😳 😁 😒 😎 😠 😆 😅 😜 😉 😭 😇 😴 😮 😈 ❤️️ 👍

ChineseClass101.com Verified
Tuesday at 06:30 PM
Pinned Comment
Your comment is awaiting moderation.

Please let us know if you have any questions.

ChineseClass101.com Verified
Monday at 05:24 PM
Your comment is awaiting moderation.

Hello robert groulx,


Thank you for your comment, we hope you enjoyed the lesson!


If you have any questions, please let us know.


Ngai Lam

Team ChineseClass101.com

robert groulx
Saturday at 09:52 PM
Your comment is awaiting moderation.

thanks for the lesson


my favorite words are guānménle ma


robert

ChineseClass101.com
Monday at 07:17 PM
Your comment is awaiting moderation.

Hello Tais,


Thank you for your comment, 谢谢你!We're glad to know that you're learning a lot! 😄


Keep it up, and let us know if you have any questions.


Ngai Lam

Team ChineseClass101.com

Tais
Monday at 09:02 AM
Your comment is awaiting moderation.

老师,您真的很好! I’m finally learning Chinese properly! Keep it up~ 谢谢!