On Perfective –le in Mandarin Chinese: Theoretical and Pedagogical Issues

Keywords: Chinese perfective -le, tense and aspect, temporal intervals, Chinese language pedagogy


Although Mandarin Chinese perfective -‍le has been extensively studied in the literature, views on its linguistic properties nevertheless remain controversial. In this study, I first discuss the temporal function of perfective -‍le and provide an alternative account. In the spirit of Klein’s (1994) approach regarding different temporal intervals, I demonstrate that the core function of this suffix is to indicate that one event occurs after another. I then address the issue of the English translation of perfective -‍le in a Chinese as a foreign or second language class and argue that English present perfect construction may not represent the translation correctly. The proposal not only gives a more straightforward definition of the perfective -‍le, but also provides a simpler way for the instruction of the suffix.

Author Biography

I-hao WOO, University of Colorado Denver

Department of Modern Languages

Assistant Professor of Chinese


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How to Cite
WOO, I.- hao. (2018). On Perfective –le in Mandarin Chinese: Theoretical and Pedagogical Issues. Acta Linguistica Asiatica, 8(2), 139-158. https://doi.org/10.4312/ala.8.2.139-158
Research Articles