Perfecting ‘完 (wán)’ in Chinese: Aspect Markers for Completed Actions HSK2-3

In Mandarin Chinese, mastering the aspect markers is crucial for expressing the nuances of time and action completion. Among these markers, ‘完 (wán)’ is significant. This article delves into the usage, context, and subtleties of ‘完 (wán)’ to aid learners in integrating it seamlessly into their Chinese language skills.

Understanding’ 完 (wán)’

Definition and Basic Use

In Mandarin, ‘完 (wán)’ is an aspect marker indicating an action’s completion. It is akin to the past tense in English but is used differently in Chinese, which relies on aspect rather than tense to express time-related concepts.

The Aspectual Nature of ‘完 (wán)’

Chinese focuses on the aspect rather than the tense. This means ‘完 (wán)’ tells us about the state of an action (completed) rather than when it happened. It is crucial to understand this distinction to use ‘完 (wán)’ correctly.

我看完电影了。 (Wǒ kàn wán diànyǐng le.) – I have finished watching the movie.

他写完作业就去睡觉了。 (Tā xiě wán zuòyè jiù qù shuìjiào le.) – He went to sleep after he finished his homework.

In these examples, ‘完 (wán)’ is used to indicate the completion of the actions’ 看 (kàn, to watch)’ and ‘写 (xiě, to write),’ respectively.

Combining ‘完 (wán)’ with Other Words

‘完 (wán)’ can be combined with various verbs to indicate the completion of different actions. This combination forms a compound that brings a sense of finality to the action described.

吃完 (chī wán) – finished eating

学完 (xué wán) – finished studying

做完 (zuò wán) – finished doing/making

Contextual Nuances

With ‘了 (le)’

‘完 (wán)’ is often used in conjunction with ‘了 (le),’ another aspect marker indicating a state change. ‘了 (le)’ can be used after the verb, after ‘完 (wán),’ or at the end of the sentence to enhance the sense of completion.

我吃完饭了。 (Wǒ chī wán fàn le.) – I have finished eating.

Without ‘了 (le)’

Sometimes, ‘完 (wán)’ can be used without ‘了 (le),’ especially when the context indicates completion.

当你读完这本书,告诉我。 (Dāng nǐ dú wán zhè běn shū, gàosù wǒ.) – Tell me when you have finished reading this book.

Common Mistakes

Overuse with Past Tense

Learners often overuse ‘完 (wán)’ when translating from languages with a solid tense system. Remember, ‘完 (wán)’ is not needed for every past action, only for those where completion is crucial.

Confusion with ‘结束 (jiéshù)’

While ‘结束 (jiéshù)’ also means to finish or end, it is used for events or periods rather than specific actions.


Mastering’ 完 (wán)’ in Mandarin Chinese is a step toward fluency, especially in conveying completed actions. Remember its aspectual nature, appropriate combination with verbs, and nuanced use with ‘了 (le).’ Avoid common pitfalls, and practice integrating ‘完 (wán)’ in various contexts to fully grasp its usage and enrich your Mandarin expressions.

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