Chinese Negatives 不 (bù) and 没 (méi)

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In Chinese, both “bù(不)” and “méi(没)” can be used to negate a verb. However, when it comes to the verb “to have”, which is “yǒu(有)”, you can only say “méi yǒu(没有)” to express the negatives “not have”. NEVER EVER say “bù yǒu(不有)”, because there is no such word. Here are some simple examples for you to understand the expression of “méi yǒu(没有)” .

 

English

I don’t have a girlfriend.

Chinese (Pinyin)

wǒ  méi yǒu  nǚ péng yǒu。

Chinese (Character)

我没有女朋友。

 

English

I don’t have any money.

Chinese (Pinyin)

wǒ  méi yǒu  qián。

Chinese (Character)

我没有钱。

 

 

When adding a verb

Some Chinese learners are confused by the difference between “bù + v. (不 + v.)” and “méi(yǒu) + v. 没(有)+ v.” when negating actions. What you need to remember is that “bù + v. (不 + v.)” is used for negation of present and future actions, whereas “méi(yǒu) + v. 没(有)+ v.” is used for negation of past actions, in this case “yǒu(有)” is optional. Let’s have a look at some examples:

 

méi(yǒu) + v. ()+ v.:

English

Yesterday I didn’t go to school.

Chinese (Pinyin)

zuó tiān  wǒ  méi(yǒu)  qù  xué xiào。

Chinese (Character)

昨天我没(有)去学校。

 

English

I didn’t have breakfast today.

Chinese (Pinyin)

jīn tiān  wǒ   méi(yǒu)  chī  zāo fān。

Chinese (Character)

今天我没(有)吃早饭。

negatives no breakfast

 

“bù + v. ( + v.)”

English

I don’t go to school. / I am not going to school.

Chinese (Pinyin)

wǒ  bú(不)  qù  xué xiào。

Chinese (Character)

我不去学校。

 

English

I don’t eat breakfast. / I am not going to eat breakfast.

Chinese (Pinyin)

wǒ   bù  chī  zāo fān。

Chinese (Character)

我不吃早饭。

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