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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?

有(一)点儿 (yǒu yìdiǎnr)

“有(一)点儿“ is an adverb, which is put before an adjective or verb as a modifier, and “一” can usually be omitted

Generally, it is used to describe something dissatisfying, discontentment, uncomfortable, or against one’s wishes. The degree is not high.

For example:

  • 有(一)点儿累

A: 明天早上七点起床,怎么样?(Míngtiān zǎoshang qī diǎn qǐchuáng, zěnme yàng?) How about getting up at seven tomorrow morning?

B: 我有(一)点儿累,我想睡到九点。(Wǒ yǒu yìdiǎnr lèi, wǒ xiǎng shuì dào jiǔ diǎn.) I’m a little tired. I want to sleep until nine o’clock.

  • 有(一)点儿不舒服

A: 你怎么了? (Nǐ zěnme le?) What’s wrong?

B: 我有(一)点儿不舒服。(Wǒ yǒu yìdiǎnr bù shūfu.) I feel a little uncomfortable.

  • 有(一)点儿贵

A: 为什么不买这件红衣服?这件更漂亮。(Wèishénme bù mǎi zhè jiàn hóng yīfu? Zhè jiàn gèng piàoliang.) Why not buy this red shirt? It’s prettier.

B: 这件衣服有(一)点儿贵,我再想一想。(Zhè jiàn yīfu yǒu yìdiǎnr guì, wǒ zài xiǎngyìxiǎng.) This piece of clothing is a little bit expensive. I’ll think about it again.

The Verb in this pattern is often a mental verb.

For example:

  • ()点儿想家。

A: 你怎么哭了?(Nǐ zěnme kūle?) Why are you crying?

B: 我有(一)点儿想家。我已经两年没回家了。(Wǒ yǒu yìdiǎnr xiǎng jiā. Wǒ yǐjīng liǎng nián me huíjiā le.) I’m a little homesick. I haven’t been home for two years.

  • ()点儿不喜欢

A: 你的男朋友怎么没有和你一起来旅游?(Nǐ de nán péngyǒu zěnme méiyǒu hé nǐ yìqǐ lái lǚyóu?) Why didn’t your boyfriend travel with you?

B: 他有点儿不喜欢这个城市,所以我就一个人来了。(Tā yǒudiǎnr bù xǐhuān zhège chéngshì, suǒyǐ wǒ jiù yí gè rén láile.) He doesn’t really like this city, so I came alone

Note that the Adjectives or Mental Verbs placed after 有一点儿 can’t be positive in meaning. 

For example:

✘ 这个房间有一点儿漂亮。(Zhège fángjiān yǒu yìdiǎnr piàoliang.)
✔ 这个房间有一点儿。(Zhège fángjiān yǒu yìdiǎnr chou.) This room is a little ugly.

✘ 孩子们有一点儿开心。(Háizimen yǒu yìdiǎnr kāixīn.)
✔ 孩子们有一点儿不开心。(Háizimen yǒu yìdiǎnr bù kāixīn.) The children are a little unhappy.

一点儿(yìdiǎnr)

“一点儿” is a quantifier, which indicates a little, a bit. It is used after an adjective to help explain that adjective. “一”also can be omitted.

For example:

  • ()点儿,好()点儿

A: 你想买哪条裙子?(Nǐ xiǎng mǎi nǎ tiáo qúnzi?) Which skirt do you want to buy?

B: 我不知道。这条裙子比那条裙子贵一点儿,但是那条比这条质量好一点儿。(Wǒ bù zhīdào. Zhè tiáo qúnzi bǐ nà tiáo qún zǐ guì yìdiǎnr, dànshì nà tiáo bǐ zhè tiáo zhìliàng hǎo yìdiǎnr.) I don’t know. This skirt is a little more expensive than that one, but that one is a little better quality than this one.

  • ()点儿,慢()点儿

A: 你快一点儿跑!我们又要迟到了!(Nǐ kuài yìdiǎnr pǎo! Wǒmen yòu yào chídàole!) You hurry up and run! We’re going to be late again!

B: 你慢一点儿,我的脚疼。(Nǐ màn yìdiǎnr, wǒ de jiǎo téng.) Slow down, my feet hurt.

If there is a “了” in the sentence which includes ”一点儿”, the meaning will be more complex. For example:

这条裙子大了(一)点儿。= 这条裙子有(一)点儿大。
(Zhè tiáo qúnzi dà le yìdiǎnr.) = (Zhè tiáo qúnzi yǒu yìdiǎnr dà.)
-> against one’s wishes, not satisfied.
This dress is a little bit bigger (than expected).

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

Since 一点儿 is a quantifier, it can’t be used as an adverbial modifier. Therefore, we can’t put it before an adjective.

✘ 这个人一点儿。(Zhège rén yìdiǎnr bèn.)
✔ 这个人有一点儿笨。(Zhège rén yǒu yìdiǎnr bèn.) This person is a bit stupid.
✔ 这个人笨一点儿,那个人聪明一点儿。(Zhège rén bèn yìdiǎnr, nàgè rén cōngmíng yìdiǎnr.) This man is a bit stupid, that man is a bit smart.

一点儿 is also used before a noun to indicate a small quantity.

For example:

他现在有了一点儿钱,生活好起来了。(Tā xiànzài yǒule yìdiǎnr qián, shēnghuó hǎo qǐláile.) He now has a little money, and his life is getting better.

你一天就吃这么一点儿饭吗?太少了!(Nǐ yìtiān jiù chī zhème yìdiǎnr fàn ma? Tài shǎole!) Do you eat this little meal a day? So little!

A: 真的很感谢你的帮助!(Zhēn de hěn gǎnxiè nǐ de bāngzhù!) I really appreciate your help!

B:没关系,那么一点儿小事,别放在心上。(Méiguānxì, nàme yìdiǎnr xiǎoshì, bié fàng zài xīn shàng.) It’s okay, don’t worry about the little things.

一点儿 can be used in a negative sentence to indicate completeness.

For example,

这个图书馆一点儿也不安静,大家都在说话。(Zhège túshū guǎn yìdiǎnr yě bù ānjìng, dàjiā dōu zài shuōhuà.) This library is not quiet at all, everyone is talking.

这件事我一点儿都不知道,你怎么知道的?(Zhè jiàn shì wǒ yìdiǎnr dōu bù zhīdào, nǐ zěnme zhīdào de?) I don’t know anything about this, how do you know?

他汉字写得一点儿也不好。(Tā hànzì xiě de yìdiǎnr yě bù hǎo.) He is not good at writing Chinese characters at all.

你的房间打扫得一点儿都不干净。(Nǐ de fángjiān dǎsǎo de yìdiǎnr dōu bù gānjìng.) Your room was not cleaned at all.

For example,

你的钱我一点儿也没花。(Nǐ de qián wǒyìdiǎnr yě méi huā.) I haven’t spent any of your money.

大家都在休息,但是他的时间一点儿也没浪费,一直在学习。(Dàjiā dōu zài xiūxi, dànshì tā de shíjiān yìdiǎnr yě méi làngfèi, yīzhí zài xuéxí.) Everyone was resting, but his time was not wasted at all, he was always learning.

昨天你们听都到那个奇怪的声音了吗?我怎么一点儿也没听到?(Zuótiān nǐmen tīng dōu dào nàgè qíguài de shēngyīnle ma? Wǒ zěnme yìdiǎnr yě méi tīng dào?) Did you all hear that strange sound yesterday? Why didn’t I hear anything at all?

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.

(Besides, you can check the detailed comparison between 有点儿 and 一点儿, as well as more HSK related grammar tutorial videos here.)

Now, let’s do some exercises. True or False:

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.

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