Posted by Grace Feng on February 16, 2013
If you’ve been learning Chinese for some time, character “了” should be no stranger to you. It appears almost everywhere in a Chinese article as a particle to indicate an action that has taken place or something that has changed. In that sense, it should be pronounced as “le“. Such as “他走了。tā zǒu le。“, meaning “He is gone.”
However, there is another way to pronounce it: liǎo. Its usage is changed to be a verb. which means “finish, complete“.
Chinese idiom 不了了之 bùliǎoliǎozhī is a good example to use it this way: 之 zhī means the thing that has not been settled. 不了 bùliǎo means “have not been settled”. 了之 liǎozhī means “settle it”. To put them together, the idiom is describes “to settle a matter by leaving it unsettled “. I will show you how to use it in the following two examples:
yīnwèi méiyǒu zúgòu de rénshǒu， zhège gōngchéng jiù zhèyàng bùliǎoliǎozhī le。
Due to lack of resources, the project was left unsettled.
méiyǒu rén tíqǐ， zhè jiàn shì jiù zhèyàng bùliǎoliǎozhī le。
Since no one followed up, it was left unsettled.
Category: Chinese idioms
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