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Say It Right Series

Really confused about tenses and use of participles,the conditional and subjunctive?

Posted by doodlemonster March 29, 2010 in the Group General Discussion.

I've trying for aaaages to grasp the concepts of tenses in Chinese but I just honestly cannot understand at all >.< In European languages, I can get that fine. I mean, I've just completed making a verb/tense table in Spanish of (I think) all the possible tenses in Spanish (there's about 18 entries). I then tried to do the same for Chinese, using the same tense headings. I know what you're thinking, I was perhaps stupid trying to compare Chinese alongside a romance language :P So needless to say I've been totally stuck >.<

To help, I also used the sentences that xiaophil posted in his post The Final Grammar Result but I'm still finding things hard to grasp >.< From my understanding, what determines a tense is a particle in each sentence. So this is what I've got so far:


  • 我看
  • I read
  • No particle needed
Present Continuous
  • I am reading
  • 在 indicates an action is ongoing at that time
Present Perfect
  • I have read
  • 过 indicates the action has been experienced in the past
Present Perfect  Continuous
(I wasn't really sure what to put for this one)
  • 我看了
  • I read ('red' not reed' - past)
  • 了 indicates a completed action
So are those tenses right? Because after I got to past I really coudln't figure out any particular particle I was meant to use :/ From what I saw in various books, you just pick a word, like when forming the future, just add in 'tonight'/'tomorrow' or something. So do you basically make up the rest of the tenses or is there a set way that I've missed?
I'd be really really really grateful if someone could help me out ^_^ these tenses have been driving me insane for ages and I can't work them out >.<
Another quick question, is there such thing as the conditional, subjunctive, present participles or past participles as there are in Spanish? Also the imperative, would you form it just like 看 and then an exclamation mark to show the order? 
I'd be really grateful for any help on tenses! 

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