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Confucius Institute

不 (bù) or 没 (méi)

2 November 2015

In Chinese, there are two words that you can use to indicate the negative meaning of ‘not’. We have put together 5 rules to help you give your sentence the right meaning.

In Chinese, there are two words 不 (bù) & 没 (méi), indicating negative meaning of ‘not’. Both 不 (bù) and 没 (méi) can be used in front of verbs or adjectives to negate action, characters and states. There are 5 main rules to help you choose the right words so your sentence has the right meaning.

Rule 1.

不 (bù) is used in front of adjectives to negate the nature.

我不舒服 Wo bù shufu? - I’m not comfortable.

她今天不忙 Ta jintian bù máng? - She is not busy today.

Rule 2.

不 (bù) denies the occurrence of a habitual or repeated action.

我不吃肉 Wo bù chi ròu? - I don’t eat meat. (never)

他不喝酒 Ta bù he jiu? - I don’t drink alcohol. (never)

Rule 3.

不 (bù) also denies the willingness of an action.

我不喜欢看电影 Wo bù xihuan kàn diànying? - I don't like to watch movies.

我不想去餐厅 Wo bù xiang qù canting? - I don’t want to go to the restaurant.

Rule 4.

没 (méi) simply denies the completion of a specific action.

昨天我没吃肉 Zuótian wo méi chi ròu? - I didn’t eat meat yesterday.

Rule 5.

不 (bù) is always used to deny 是(shì to be); 没 (méi) is always used to deny 有 (you to have).

我不是法国人 Wo bú shì Faguó rén. - I’m not French.

我没有妹妹 Wo méiyou mèimei. - I have no younger sister.

What is the the right word for each sentence?

Wo ài he kafei.

1. 我______ 爱喝咖啡 (I don’t like to drink coffee.)

Wo zuótian kàn diànying.

2. 我 昨天______ 看 电 影 ( I didn’t watch a movie yesterday.)

Ta shì laoshi.

3. 她_______ 是 老师 (She is not a teacher.)

Wo cónglái chi qiaokèlì.

4. 我 从 来_______ 吃 巧克力 (I never eat chocolate).

Ni you you xiao gou?

5. 你有_______有 小 狗 (Do you have puppy?)


Answer: 1. ? (bù) 2. ? (méi) 3. ? (bù) 4. ? (bù) 5. ? (méi)

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