他把那封信放在抽屉里(了)

Memories

Member
Texan
大家好:

这个问题我可能解释得很啰嗦, so bear with me. :)

One of the better grammar textbooks I have explained quite well the use of 了 in demonstrating perfective aspect.

In one subsection, it expands upon when 了 is not used due to other expressions already "perfectivizing" the verb phrase thus rendering unnecessary its addition. This makes sense.

For instance: 他把那封信放在抽屉里。The book says that "在抽屉里” already "bounds" the action. A Chinese penpal of mine told me that this sentence is default "completed action." When I asked her, how would you say that tomorrow he'll do it, she said "他明天会把那封信放在抽屉里" but admitted this sounded a bit weird. What do you all think?

I'd like to know whether or not 了2 normally used at the end of this type of sentence.

Thanks in advance.
 
  • zhg

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Actually, I think, 了 can be used in your sentence.
    For instance
    A-你知道那封信放在哪里了吗,我昨天把它放在桌子上的,怎么今天就找不到了?
    B-哦,是那封信啊!我把它放(在)抽屉里了.

    Also I will not use 放在 if I want to say that he'll do it tomorrow. Instead I will use 放回,放进 which makes better sense than the original 放在.
     
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    xiaolijie

    Senior Member
    UK
    English (UK)
    Further to what zhg has said, I'd say that the sentence-final 了 can be added to any sentence if the context supports it. So, concerning this 了, the question is not "what sentence can it be added?" but is "in what context would the addition make sense?"
     

    stellari

    Senior Member
    Mandarin Chinese
    Okay I cannot give you an exhaustive list of the usage of 了, but I can tell you the difference with and without 了 for this particular sentence.

    1. Suppose you are writing a novel describing a man's action in the past:
    “He PUT the letter in the drawer, and quietly walked out of the door."
    then you MUST say 他把那封信放在抽屉里 without 了. Here you concentrate on describing the action of 'putting', and do not care so much about what result this action may cause.

    2. If you are talking about the whereabout of a letter with your friend:
    A: Do you know where the letter is?
    B: Let me see... Oh, he put the letter IN THE DRAWER!
    then 了 is mandatory. Here you don't care about with what method he left the letter in the drawer, nor do you have to 'describe' it in detail.
    All you guys care about is CURRENT STATE of the letter.

    In short, a sentence without 了 focuses more on the action itself, and one with 了 focuses more on the CHANGE OF STATE caused by this action.

    他明天会把那封信放在抽屉里 sounds perfectly okay to me. 放进 and 放到 are also great choices. The three words look almost the same to me in this particular context.
     

    daoxunchang

    Senior Member
    Chinese China
    I'll give you what the sentences with and wihout 了 sound to me
    他把那封信放在抽屉里 tells the where he put the letter
    他把那封信放在抽屉里了tells you he did put the letter in the drawer, if you put emphasis on 放; ... tells you the whereabouts of the letter, if you emphasise 抽屉. And of course you can emphasise other points in the sentence.

    As for the character following 放, I must admit I would most probably use none of them, if I use 了, but just 他把那封信放抽屉里了。
     

    HYCHIN

    Member
    Cantonese
    I think the "sentence final 了" is not the "perfective 了".

    他把那封信放在抽屉里了.

    The first 了 (red) is a "perfective 了", the last 了 is "sentence final 了".

    The perfective 了 has three contents (see 戴耀晶's text):
    dynamicity
    perfectiveness
    actuality

    However, I don't know why it can be missing from the sentence. Is it a "neutral aspect"?
     
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    xiaolijie

    Senior Member
    UK
    English (UK)
    I think the "sentence final 了" is not the "perfective 了".
    It seems that the OP just used the word without considering the meaning. This can sometimes mislead those who take the title seriously. Another thread by the same OP is titled as "Unintentional action with 了", which is equally misleading.

    他把那封信放在抽屉里了.
    The first 了 (red) is a "perfective 了", the last 了 is "sentence final 了".

    The perfective 了 has three contents (see 戴耀晶's text):
    dynamicity
    perfectiveness
    actuality

    However, I don't know why it can be missing from the sentence. Is it a "neutral aspect"?
    The "perfective 了" is not needed unless you really want to emphasize the action.
    The "sentence final 了" is sufficient to indicate the aspect of the sentence, and two 了 together would make the sentence a bit heavy. This I think is the reason for the middle 了 to be dropped.
     

    stellari

    Senior Member
    Mandarin Chinese
    I think the "sentence final 了" is not the "perfective 了".

    他把那封信放在抽屉里了.
    As far as I am concerned, '放在了' is much, much more natural than 放了在.
    In this particular context,
    他把那封信放在了抽屉里 is almost the same 他把那封信放在抽屉里了. Maybe the former (perfective) emphasizes more on the completion of the action 'putting', and the latter (sentence final) more on the result of the action 'letter is now in the drawer'.
     

    tarlou

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    I don't think "他明天会把那封信放在抽屉里" is weird. It's a perfect sentence. 他明天会把信放在抽屉里 is also fine.

    If you replace 会 by 就, then you need to add 了 or 啦 (but not 的): 他明天就把信放在抽屉里了.

    Without future tense, both 他把那封信放在抽屉里 and 他把那封信放在抽屉里了 are fine. But I would say in most cases you need 了. You can omit 了 only (??maybe, I'm not sure) when there is another action following: 他把信放在抽屉里,就出去了.

    I'm not sure about grammars. And I don't quite believe in any grammar analysis of Chinese. (I thought none of them would really work, and grammar is not a concept works for Chinese.) But I have heard of the concept "perfective aspect": the 了 between the verb and object is "perfective aspect", e.g. 他写了信, 他吃了饭. There can be another 了 at the end of a sentence, which I think is more like "perfect aspect", i.e. "have done" in English.
    For 放在抽屉里, there is no object for the verb 放. So there is no way to add a 了 to indicate "perfective aspect".
     

    xiaolijie

    Senior Member
    UK
    English (UK)
    tarlou said:
    the 了 between the verb and object is "perfective aspect", e.g. 他写了信, 他吃了饭. There can be another 了 at the end of a sentence, which I think is more like "perfect aspect", i.e. "have done" in English.
    "Perfective aspect" and "perfect aspect" are the same thing. You may like to have a look at post #6 for the relatively established terms for the two kinds of 了.
     
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    tarlou

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    "Perfective aspect" and "perfect aspect" are the same thing. You may like to have a look at post #6 for the relatively established terms for the two kinds of 了.
    I'm not sure how people use these two terms. I was using them as in Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perfective_aspect#Perfective_vs._perfect
    "Perfective aspect" means the action is a whole without internal structure, whereas "perfect" means the action has been finished.

    For #6, I agree with #8. I think there is no way to use "perfective aspect" here in this sentence, because there is no object after the verb so we can't insert a 了 between verb and object.
     

    xiaolijie

    Senior Member
    UK
    English (UK)
    I'm not sure how people use these two terms. I was using them as in Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perfective_aspect#Perfective_vs._perfect
    "Perfective aspect" means the action is a whole without internal structure, whereas "perfect" means the action has been finished.

    For #6, I agree with #8. I think there is no way to use "perfective aspect" here in this sentence, because there is no object after the verb so we can't insert a 了 between verb and object.
    This is as a whole a bit confusing, tarlou :), the bit in red in particular: I don't think the use of 了 requires the present of the object, as demonstrated by an example in post #8 (which you said you agree with!): 他把那封信放在了抽屉里/ 他把那封信放了在抽屉里.
     

    tarlou

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    This is as a whole a bit confusing, tarlou :), the bit in red in particular: I don't think the use of 了 requires the present of the object, as demonstrated in post #8 (which you said you agree with!): 他把那封信放在了抽屉里.
    My bad! I was thinking about only "放了在" and forgot "抽屉里" was also a part of the sentence... #8 is right.
     
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