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How to Say “NO” in Chinese – All About Negation

As far as I know, almost all non-native Chinese speakers know the word “不” , which is the most common way to say “NO” in Chinese. It`s just as commonly used as  saying “Hi” or “你好”.. But can “No”  be translated in all negative situations as “不”? Apparently the answer is, well, “不”! This common translation does not fully match all the contexts when one has to say “No”. In Mandarin Chinese, there are other ways to communicate a negative expression depending on the context or the situation.

Here are other ways to say (不) “no” in Chinese, and in what situations to use them:

1. 不 + Verb

This form is the most frequently used structure to express “No”.  It`s the classic answer to a yes or no question, as well as a way to express negation   for some situations.

no in chinese

 

a) When you want to express your own views or unwillingness, you can use this structure “不+verb”.

e.g.

A: 你爱不爱她(Nǐ ài bù ài tā?)

   Do you love her or not?

B: 我不爱她(Wǒ bù ài tā.)

   I don`t love her.

 

这个水果不好(Zhège shuǐguǒ bù hǎo.)

This fruit is not good.

 

b) When indicating the change of a situation , you can also use “不”.

e.g.

我不去上海了(Wǒ bú qù shànghǎi le.)

I won`t go to Shanghai anymore.

 

c) When indicating an objective fact, the negation form is “不是” or“不会”.

e.g.

他不是中国人(Tā bú shì zhōngguó rén.)

He is not a Chinese person. 

 

A:你会打篮球吗(Nǐ huì dǎ lánqiú ma?)

  Do you know how to play basketball?

B:我不会打篮球(Wǒ bú huì dǎ lánqiú.)

  I don`t know how to play basketball.

 

d) When expressing the prohibition of an action, we use “不” with model verbs like “能” or“可以”.

e.g.

你不可以这样做(Nǐ bù kěyǐ zhèyàng zuò.)

You cannot do so.

 

这里不能抽烟(Zhèlǐ bùnéng chōuyān.)

Smoking is not allowed here.

2. 没 / 没有 + Verb

In Chinese, there are different tenses to express something that happened  at a certain time.  Expression the negative form also needs the same indication.

how to say no in chinese

a) When it indicates “not or “not have”, we use the negation “没/没有” to describe something that hasn`t happened, or a negative fact.

e.g.

他没回家(Tā méi huí jiā.)

He didn`t come home.

 

他没有吃饭(Tā méiyǒu chīfàn.)

He didn`t have a meal.

 

b) It can also c

e.g.

他没钱(Tā méi qián.)

He doesn`t have money.

 

这儿没有饭馆 (Zhèr méiyǒu fànguǎn.)

There is no restaurant here.

3. There are several very formal ways to express negation, such as “非”, “否”, or “勿”. They are often used in written Chinese.

negation in chinese

a) 非(fēi): wrong, oppose, object to, un-, con-

e.g.

问题在你而非她= 问题在你而不是她

(Wèntí zài nǐ, ér fēi tā.= Wèntí zài nǐ, ér bùshì tā.)

You are the problem, not her.

 

这是非法的 = 这是不合法的

(Zhè shì fēifǎ de = zhè shì bù héfǎ de)

This is illegal.

 

b) 无(wú): not have, there is not, nothing

e.g.

无人生还 = 没有人活着回来

(Wú rénshēng huán = méiyǒu rén huózhe huílái)

Nobody comes back alive.

 

无法知道 = 没有办法知道

(Wúfǎ zhīdào = méiyǒu bànfǎ zhīdào)

have no way to know.

 

c) 否(fǒu): to deny, to negate

e.g.

是否正确 = 是不是正确

(Shìfǒu zhèngquè = shì bùshì zhèngquè)

is it right or not

 

我否定了她的计划

(Wǒ fǒudìng le tā de jìhuà.)

I denied her plan.

 

d) 勿(wù): do not, mainly expresses inhibition or to dissuade somebody from doing something

e.g.

请勿打扰 = 请不要打扰

(Qǐng wù dǎrǎo = qǐng bú yào dǎrǎo)

Don`t disturb please.

 

非礼勿视 (fēi lǐ wù shì)

See no evil

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