了 - 我還以為他不走了呢

chinese_beginner

New Member
English - U.S.
Hi, can anyone tell me what's the function of 了 in this sentence, "我還以為他不走了呢"? I already try asking other people and there seems to be uncertainty to what it is. It has already been sort of dragged out. I hope someone here can clear up the confusion.:eek:

The sentence is from a children's book that was originally in English. The English version for it is, "I thought he'd never leave." As for context, the person that the sentence is referring to, have just left. The speaker then says "我還以為他不走了呢".

I'm terrible at grammar and I'm just a beginner learning Chinese. I'm not sure if 了 is denoting that 不走 is a completed action (or decision in this case), or if it referring to a change of situation. It makes sense to me to see it denoting a completed action/decision. But can someone tell me for sure if that's correct?

Also could someone please verify what I learn so far about the grammatical structure of this sentence is correct? :

-以為 is referring the statement after it, to be a mistaken belief/assumption. Which in this case, the speaker was wrong in his assumption that the person wouldn't leave.
-And there was a post here that stated that 還 in this sort of case, is use for emphasizing or to give a stronger tone. So it was really unexpected to the speaker that he was wrong in his assumption.
-Awhile 呢 just adds to the stronger tone of the sentence.

If there's anything that needs to be clarify, please tell me. Thanks.
 
  • fyl

    Senior Member
    Mandarin Chinese
    I'm not sure if 不走了 is 不(走了) as in Skatinginbc's explanation. I wound read it as (不走)了. I think the OP have corrected pointed out that 不走 is a decision here.

    Compare:
    不走=won't leave, plan not to leave, decide not to leave
    “我不走了!” = "I (have decided that I) won't leave!"
    沒走=have not left
    “他沒走” = "He has not left"

    我以為他不走了 = I thought he had decided not to leave (but in fact he had left or was leaving or had shown signs of leaving, i.e. we don't know if he had left, and this is just about his decision). Here 了 indicates that 不走 (decide not to leave) is completed.
    我以
    為他沒走 (adding 了 is incorrect here) = I thought he had not left (but in fact he had left).

    Edit: There is another sentence needs to consider
    我以
    為他不走 (without 了) = I thought he would not leave. I think this is better phrased as 我以他不會走 (or something similar depending on the context).
    所有人都求他留下,我以
    他不會走,可他還是走了。 Everyone asked him to stay, I thought he wouldn't leave, but he still left.
    所有人都求他留下,我以
    為(這樣)他(就)不(會)走了,可他還是走了。 Everyone asked him to stay, I thought (seeing this) he must have set his mind to "not leave", but he still left.
     
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    SuperXW

    Senior Member
    不走: not to leave
    不走了: "not to leave" has been decided
    他不走了: it is decided that he would not leave
    我還以為他不走了呢: I thought it was decided that he would not leave (but I was wrong).

    If you are a beginner, don't bother too much with functions of each particle.
    Just try to read more sentences with these structures:
    我還以為... I thought... (but I was wrong.)
    他不...了 He won't/wouldn't...
    Then you'll get the knack!

    P.S. I agree with fyl. I don't think people would analyze 不走了 as 不+走了.
     
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    chinese_beginner

    New Member
    English - U.S.
    I don't want to be indecisive but after doing some more research, I found out that you can't negate negative past verbs with 不 and 了. I have been looking at 不走了 as a completed decision in the past. :eek: Unless I'm missing something? I'm having the cold and not exactly suitable right now for critical thinking.

    But if "不...了" is a sentence pattern/structure that means "won't/wouldn't", then it does make it a closer match to the original English version, "I thought he'd never leave." Which makes this sentence something like 'Future in the Past' tense for English. (reminder: not that great with grammar so I might be wrong.)

    At least it's more definite to say it conveys a meaning closer to the original, I guess. I'll probably just take that as the answer to what's the function of 了 in the sentence, unless someone thinks it's wrong or that something just completely flew over my head.

    Thanks for replying you guys. :)
     
    But if "不...了" is a sentence pattern/structure that means "won't/wouldn't", then it does make it a closer match to the original English version
    了 is often referred to as a sentence final particle or modal particle (语气词). It does not change the meaning of the sentence. Rather, it has more to do with the intent of the utterance.
    For instance, when you want to draw the listener's attention to a current situation, and if you know the situation has changed before, 了 usually should be used. 了 is basically a signal, a notice that says you (the listener) should be aware of this.

    三点了。It's three o'clock.
    该走了。It's time to go.
    他要走了。He is leaving.
    他不走了。He isn't leaving.
    做好了。It's done.
    他走了。He's left.
    I found that Japanese usually prefers the simple past form of verbs and the present form of adjectives.
    In English, the present form of adjectives and the past perfect form of verbs seem much more common.
    In Chinese, we use 了.
     

    chinese_beginner

    New Member
    English - U.S.
    Do you think 了 is use here to show a change of situation?

    But like I said in my first post, I'm unable to tell if it's use for denoting a completed action or a change of situation.

    Looking over it again, say we do go along with the idea that 了 in this case is use to show change of situation...

    -It might be a dumb question but is it okay if another particle like 呢 is added after 了? Looking at it now, I assume it's befitting for 呢 to be last one if
    you want to make the sentence have a stronger tone? (If you're confuse, I talked about 呢 a bit in my first post above.)

    -Then does that mean the sentence is trying to say something like this: At first, the speaker assumed the person would leave but then --change of situation---> The speaker changed his mind and assumed the person wouldn't leave.

    -I don't think it actually tells you that the change of situation takes place in the present/current situation, but that the change occur in the past. (change of situation = change of assumption) But it still works?

    I hope that didn't confuse anyone...
     
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    SuperXW

    Senior Member
    了 is quite flexible, or you can say complicated, in Chinese. It can often be taken away without changing the meaning. Or if it does has a function, you can often interpret it in different ways. In your sentence, I think you are right to say it's to show change of situation.

    Yes, 了 can be followed by another mood particle, like 呢, 啊, etc.

    Chinese doesn't have a tense system like English and European languages. So the time is often vague or flexible in a Chinese sentence. I can only explain the following sentences in this way:
    1. 我还以为他不走呢。It's mentioned he would leave, then it's mentioned he would not leave. But he finally leaves.
    2. 我还以为他不走呢。It's NOT mentioned whether he would leave or stay. I just assumed he would stay. But he finally leaves.
    If we want to be sure about the time or period, we'll add "time word" to the sentence, but not messing with 了.
    3. 我还以为他永远不会(never)离开。I thought he'd never leave.

    1 is to say "I thought the situation has been changed."
    2 is closer to the original sentence.
    3 is closest to the original sentence.
     
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    First of all, I think 呢 goes with 还, 他不走了 is the object of 以为. It is safe to take 我还以为...呢 off and just look at 他不走了 only.

    I read your sentence again and think my explanation in #6 does not apply to it. Technically speaking, 他不走了 is what you thought (以为) and said to yourself which does not require a listener. You say/think that exactly at the moment you realize something. This scenario is a bit complicated and I do not want to confuse you, but just in this case, 他不走了 implies 他本来要走 (he was going to leave), while 他不走 does not.
    Then does that mean the sentence is trying to say something like this: At first, the speaker assumed the person would leave but then --change of situation---> The speaker changed his mind and assumed the person wouldn't leave.
    Perhaps this 了 is more like “now”. 他不走了 means “he (has changed his mind and) is not leaving now”. 他不走 simply means “he will not leave”.
    But like I said in my first post, I'm unable to tell if it's use for denoting a completed action or a change of situation.
    That depends on whether the verb or predicate is stative or dynamic. Verbs and adverbs like 不, 能, 会 and 要 never denote actions.
     
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    chinese_beginner

    New Member
    English - U.S.
    Sorry, I forgot to add this in yesterday. Hopefully this could help clear up some things, because this looks more context is needed in order to figure this out. :eek:

    In the beginning, the person mentions that he needs to leave. He quickly asks the reader a favor and gives a reminder. Then he leaves. Then our speaker shows up and says, "我還以為他不走了呢".

    What do you guys think now?
     
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    Still_Chan

    New Member
    Chinese
    Yang,你可真有耐性,剛無意間看到你解釋的かとも思ったが,在這有碰到了,厲害,解釋的簡直夠詳細的~~~~~~~~~~
    我覺得跟這樣解釋就跟他們講中國歷史一樣~沒有根據地~~~~這些無實際意義的語氣詞,雖然多多少少影響句子意思,但側重點應該在於說話人的語氣及心情~~
    Hi,J.M,If you want to know the meaning of the word in that sentence, just think about the speaker's emotion, depending on what the speaker's feeling or what the situation is at. It's not only grammars presented here,mostly, the speaker's emotion...

    Whatever you think,imprisons you.....
     
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