他是什么时候死的(了)?

gvergara

Senior Member
Español
Hi

I'm trying to figure out how to use the particle 了 for finished events. I thought a logical use would be to use it when asking when somebody died. The translators, however, suggest a different formulation (他是什么时候死的?) Is there a way to ask for the same information using ? Thanks in advance

G.
 
  • xiaolijie

    Senior Member
    UK
    English (UK)
    Your question is to ask about the time someone died, and not whether someone died (or not).
    In the former case, the suggested sentence above is correct and you can't replace 是...的 with 了. In the latter, you can certainly use 了:
    - 他死了吗?
    - 死了.
     

    Hyperpolyglot

    Senior Member
    British Official English
    Instead of 了,you can actually add 呢, they sound a bit familiar, 呢 for a question works great for this
    他是什么时候死的呢?
     

    xiaolijie

    Senior Member
    UK
    English (UK)
    Just some additional explanation to help with the understanding of the use of 了:

    了 has to do with the accomplishment of something, with whether something has happened or not. Therefore the example
    - 他死了吗?(Has he died?)
    - 死了. (He has.)
    makes sense.

    You can also ask whether someone has arrived, someone has got married, someone has understood, etc. using 了, as they're all about whether something has happened/ has been accomplished or not.

    On the other hand, questions such as what time someone arrived, when someone was born, who his father is, etc. are all about things and matters in the world (= what, when, who, how, etc.), and not whether something has been accomplished, they therefore don't call for the use of 了.
     
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    On the other hand, questions such as what time someone arrived, when someone was born, who his father is, etc. are all about things and matters in the world (= what, when, who, how, etc.), and not whether something has been accomplished, they therefore don't call for the use of 了.
    他为什么回去了? 他怎么回去了?
    “Why” must be different and I don't know why.

    It seems “who” and “what” are sometimes used with 了.
    谁来了?
    他说什么了?
     

    xiaolijie

    Senior Member
    UK
    English (UK)
    他为什么回去了? 他怎么回去了?
    “Why” must be different and I don't know why.

    It seems “who” and “what” are sometimes used with 了.
    谁来了?
    他说什么了?
    I think I may not have made myself understood. I meant to say that these question types (what, when, who, how, etc.) don't motivate the use of 了: 了 can be in the sentence, but for a different reason and not because of them. Questions that ask whether something has happened or has been done, on the other hand, motivate the use of 了. They're the very reason for the present of 了.
     
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    jokingbad

    Member
    Chinese
    他是什么时候死的?
    I prefer to used 的。 because your are asking the exact time he died, this is a specific time.
    的 without any meaning just mordifying this verb.
    when 了 is put behind one verb, it means this action has been done.
     

    Testing1234567

    Senior Member
    Cantonese
    What did he do: 他了什么?
    Which did he choose: 他选择了哪一个?
    Who did he choose: 他选择了谁?
    Where did he do: 他去了哪里?
    When did he do: 他[是]什么时候的?
    How did he do: 他[是]怎样的?
    Why did he go: 他为什么了?/为什么他了?

    Looks like this has to do with the sentence formation:

    • The interrogative pronouns "what", "which", "who", "where" come after the whole sentence, so 他做了什么 would be 他做了 (he did) + 什么 (what) and therefore has the particle 了 preserved.
    • The interrogative pronouns "when" and "how" come between the subject and the verb, so the sentence is destroyed.
    • The interrogative pronoun "why" comes before the whole sentence, so the particle 了 is preserved. In the version where "why" is between the subject and the verb, this is just an alternative form, so the sentence will still not change.

    I would say that you have to memorize how to form questions with different question words, because questions words go in different positions.
    Note: I do not have any source, so I don't know if this is accurate enough. (This is just my exploration of my own mind as a native speaker)
     
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    Looks like this has to do with the sentence formation:
    • The interrogative pronouns "what", "which", "who", "where" come after the whole sentence, so 他做了什么 would be 他做了 (he did) + 什么 (what) and therefore has the particle 了 preserved.
    • The interrogative pronouns "when" and "how" come between the subject and the verb, so the sentence is destroyed.
    • The interrogative pronoun "why" comes before the whole sentence, so the particle 了 is preserved. In the version where "why" is between the subject and the verb, this is just an alternative form, so the sentence will still not change.
    I'm afraid you can't generalize like that.
    谁干的? (it may be understood as a contraction of 这是谁干的, anyway)
    他选择的哪一个
    他选择的谁
    他什么时候走了?(it's only used in certain situations)
    are all valid sentence to my ears. If there are some Resultative complements, such as 得, 在, etc. neither 了 nor 的 is used.
    你住在那?
    他出生于那一年
    我做得怎么样?
    There must be some other reasons why 了 or 的 is used.
    But I agree with Xiaolijie that "questions that ask whether something has happened or has been done motivate the use of 了".
     
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