When to Use “有(一)点儿” VS “(一)点儿” in Chinese

During Chinese class, whenever I ask my students, “今天上课累不累?(jīn tiān shàngkè lèi bu lèi? / Do you feel tired in class today?)”, they often answer me with the phrase ”一点儿累(yìdiǎnr lèi)”(×). But the correct phrase to use here is”有一点儿(yǒu yìdiǎnr)”. Why? What’s the difference between一点儿累 and 有一点儿, and when is the right time to use each phrase?

As we all know, both phrases indicate that the degree of the verb or adjective is lighter or less, but their places and meanings in the sentences are quite different.

“有一点儿(yǒu yìdiǎnr)“ is put before an adjective as an adverbial modifier (“有一点儿+verb/adjective”), and “一” can usually be omitted. Generally, it is used to describe something dissatisfying, uncomfortable, or against one’s wishes. For example:

(1) 我有(一)点儿累。(Wǒ yǒu (yì)diǎnr lèi.)
I`m a little tired.

(2) 我有(一)点儿感冒。(Wǒ yǒu (yì)diǎnr gǎnmào.)
I feel a little cold

(3) 这件衣服有(一)点儿贵。(Zhè jiàn yīfu yǒu (yì)diǎnr guì.)
This piece of clothing is a little bit expensive.

“一点儿(yìdiǎnr)” is placed after an adjective or verb as a complement which indicates that the degree of the adjective or verb is lighter or less. “一”also can be omitted (“verb/adjective +(一)点儿”). For example:

(1) 这条裙子比那条裙子贵(一)点儿。(Zhè tiáo qúnzi bǐ nà tiáo qúnzi guì (yì)diǎnr.)
This dress is more expensive than that one.

(2) 跑快(一)点儿。(Pǎo kuài (yì)diǎnr.)
Run faster.

If there is a “了” in the sentences which include一点儿“(yì)diǎnr”, the meanings will be more complex. For example:

(1) 这条裙子大了(一)点儿。=这条裙子有(一)点儿大。
(Zhè tiáo qúnzi dà le (yì)diǎnr.) = (Zhè tiáo qúnzi yǒu (yì)diǎnr dà.)
-> against one’s wish

This dress is a little bit bigger.
(2) 这条裙子小了(一)点儿了。(Zhè tiáo qúnzi xiǎo le (yì)diǎnr.)
This dress is a little bit smaller than before.

(About the use of 点, you can click here for more details.)

When you speak with native Chinese speakers, listen closely to when and how they use “有一点儿(yǒu yìdiǎnr)“ and “一点儿(yìdiǎnr)”. By doing so, you will more quickly pick up the right times to use each phrase. It’s not difficult, once you get the hang of it, and knowing when to use these two phrases will add to your mastery of Mandarin.

Now, let’s do some exercises. Fill in the blanks with the answers:

(1)这双鞋_______贵_______。(Zhè shuāng xié_______guì________.)
This pair of shoes is a little bit expensive.

(2) 这个表_______慢了_______。(Zhège biǎo_______mànle_______.)
This watch is a little slow.

(3)你走_______快_______。(Nǐ zǒu_______kuài_______.)
You walk a little fast.

(4) 他吃得_______多_______。(Tā chī de_______duō_______.)
You ate a little too much.

(5) 我有_______钱_______。(Wǒ yǒu_______qián_______.)
I have only a little bit of money.

Zhang Yu

After graduating from University majoring in Teaching Chinese As A Second Language in 2011, Zhang Yu worked as a book editor about Chinese traditional culture and juvenile reading for 3 years. In 2015, she became a graduate student of Beijing Foreign Studies University, and continued to study international Chinese education. Now she is a Chinese teacher in Confucius institute in Palacký University, Olomouc in Czech Republic.