Chinese Grammar Structures : Verb Complements

This is one topic that really tripped me up when I started learning Chinese — you often need to specify what state your verbs are in when you are speaking.

What does this mean in practice? Basically there are a handful of verb compliment words (some of which happen to be verbs themselves) that you need to add to end end of your verbs to make them fully intelligible to a Chinese speaker.

Generally they are separated into potential complements and result complements

Result Complements

subj + V + complement + 了

Examples of result complements

你吃完了吗?Are you done eating?

你吃错了。You are eating wrong.

你吃腻了吗?Are you bored of eating?

衣服穿好了。 I finished getting dressed.

穿衣服错了。 You put your clothes on wrong.

你那看你到了吗?Did you see that?

我那可以看见。I can see that.

这个字你写错了。You wrote that character wrong.

这个词你说错了。You said that word wrong.

我记错了。I remembered wrong.

我记好了。I remembered correctly.

Potential Complements

The grammar structure in this case is:

V + 得/不 + complement

Examples of potential complements

做不完。Weren’t you able to finish doing it?

听得懂。Can you understand?

听不懂。Can’t understand?

起得来。Can you get up?

起不来。Can you not get up?


Product Manager + Software Developer. Interested in Travel, Culture, and the Internet.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store