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How to Use the Complement of Result

Complements are often the trickiest aspect of Mandarin Chinese grammar for learners. The Mandarin result complement announces the result or completion of an action. This might seem similar to the use of the degree complement to describe the state of things after the action of a verb or adjective. The difference is that the degree complement is about assessing the situation, whereas the result complement is more basic and confirms whether a verb is completed successfully or not. This is necessary because most Mandarin verbs do not indicate the result.

In its basic form, the result complement forms a two-character compound including the verb. For example, a common second character is 到 (dào):

1. 到(dào): implying that an action has attained the expected aim or result.

• 看到(kàndào, see)
• 听到(tīngdào, hear)
• 遇到(yùdào, run into)
• 接到(jiēdào, receive)
• 收到(shōudào , receive)
• 找到(zhǎodào , find)
• 买到(mǎidào, succeed in buying)

Example 1: zhǎodào找到 (zhǎo找to look for + dào到[attain the expected result],find)
我找到李先生了。(Wǒ zhǎodào Lǐ Xiānsheng le. I have found Mr. Li.)

Example 2: mǎidào买到 (mǎi买to buy + dào到[attain the expected result]) succeed in buying)
我去晚了。没有买到电影票。(Wǒ qùwǎn le. Méi yǒu mǎidào diànyǐng piào. I was late./ I got there late. [So,] I did not manage to get the movie tickets.)

2.  到(dào) : reach or arrive at (a place or a point of time)

  • zǒudào 走到 walk to /until/up to
  • pǎodào 跑到 run to /until/up to
  • xuédào 学到 study until/up to
  • shuìdào 睡到 sleep until/up to
  • mángdào 忙到 be busy until/up to
  • kàndào 看到 read or watch until/up to
  • tīngdào 听到 listen until/up to

Example 1: xuédào学到 (xué学to study + dào到 until/up to) study until/up to
我们学到第八课了。(Wǒmen xuédào Dì Bā Kè le. We have studied up to Lesson 8 so far.)

Example 2: 昨天晚上我们学中文学到十一点。
(Zuótiān wǎnshang wǒmen xué Zhōngwén xuédào shíyī diǎn. We studied Chinese until 11 o’clock last night.)

(Besides 到, you can also check the video summary about the Result Complement as well as more HSK related grammar tutorial videos at here.)

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