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Level 12: Dining (Grammar)

Terms in this set (24)

A "result complement" is a complement that's used to describe or clarify the result of a verb's action.


Remember: a complement is a word or phrase following a verb (or sometimes an adjective) that provides additional meaning to the verb phrase. There are many different types of complements. Complements can describe duration, quantity, state, degree, result, direction, or possibility.

The use of result complements is an essential feature of the Chinese language. Generally speaking, result complements are necessary as long as an action produces a certain result.

In English, we have separate verbs to describe actions depending on their outcome. You can look, but not see, or listen, but not hear. In Chinese, verbs tend to be of the 'look' and 'listen' variety - the result isn't included like it is in 'see' and 'hear'. So if you want to indicate the result, you have to use a result complement.

There are endless examples of these 'attempt' or 'procedure' verbs in Chinese which don't include an outcome. The majority of Chinese verbs are like this, in fact. For example:

> 看 means 'to look' but doesn't include the result 'to see'.
> 写 is similar to the English verb 'to write', in that it doesn't specify what the result of writing was (e.g. whether it was correct or not).

All of these verbs need a result complement to describe a complete action with its result.

​Whether a verb can or should be combined with a result complement is not random, but rather follows certain set patterns. It's best to memorize each "verb + result complement" as a set phrase.

NOTE 1: 了 very often appears with result complements, as 了 marks completed actions, and as you'd expect a result complement is usually about a completed action. 了 comes after the result complement, as the verb+result compound can't be separated.

NOTE 2: The negative form of a result complement is usually formed with "没有" [because it's negating a completed result]. Do NOT use "不."

1. 小白菜卖完了。= The baby bok choy is sold out [完=result complement].
2. 你找错钱了。= You gave me the change incorrectly [错=result complement].
3. 功课做好了,我要睡觉了。= My homework is done [好=result complement], I want to go to bed.

For more details about result complements; see this link: