3.7: Lesson 2 Grammar - Standard negation with 不 (bù)
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不 (bù) is generally used to negate a verb in the present or future, or to talk about what you do not do, as a habit. So expressing things like "I don't want to go" or "I'm not going" or "I don't eat meat" would be typical uses of 不 (bù).
The standard way to negate verbs in Chinese is with 不 (bù). To negate a verb, simply place 不 (bù) before it:
Subj. + 不 + Verb + Obj.
Tāmen bù shì huài háizi.
They are not bad kids.
Wǒmen bù hē jiǔ.
We don't drink alcohol.
Wǒ jīntiān bù xiǎng gōngzuò.
I don't want to work today.
Nǐ bù xǐhuan wǒ ma?
Do you not like me?
Wèishénme nǐ bù xǐhuan hē kāfēi?
Why don't you like to drink coffee?
Almost all verbs can be negated with 不 (bù), unless you are referring to a past event. We will learn later on how to use 没 (méi) as a negation particle when talking about the past. The only verb that can never be negated with 不 (bù) is 有 (yǒu).
- 我不有时间。 << BAD EXAMPLE, NEVER SAY IT THIS WAY
Wǒ bù yǒu shíjiān.
- 我没有时间。<< GOOD EXAMPLE
Wǒ méiyǒu shíjiān.
I don't have time.
Negating Stative Verbs ("Adjectives")
As it turns out, the structure with a stative verb (or "adjective") is basically the same as the one with an action verb.
Subj. + 不 + Adj.
Wǒ bù è.
I'm not hungry.
Zhège bù guì.
This is not expensive.
Gōngsī bù dà.
The company is not big.
Lǎobǎn jīntiān hěn bù gāoxìng.
The boss is very unhappy today.
Wǒ gēge bù gāo, dànshì hěn shuài.
My older brother is not tall, but he is very handsome.
[adapted from AllSet Learning Chinese Grammar Wiki, Creative Commons License BY-NC-SA 3.0]
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