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Chinese Grammar: Lesson: Standard negation with 不

An important thing to quickly learn in Chinese is how to say no to something. The most common form of negation in Chinese is (bù). It's very easy to use, as you're going to see here!


is used to negate actions in the present, and can also be used in the future. can be used with almost all verbs.

Here's how works:


S + + V (+ Object).

As you see: To say no in Chinese, simply use + the verb you want to say no about.


I am not.

I am not Chinese.

喜欢 电视
I don't like watching TV.

in the future

also works to negate actions in the future. This how it works:

He can't come tomorrow.

明天 学校
I will not go to school tomorrow.

See the presence of the word 明天 "tomorrow" in the sentences above? That's what tells you the sentence is taking place in the future.

to talk about habits

If there's no mention of time in the sentence, then you can consider is being used to negate a habit, an action repeated over time. These examples will help you understand this better.


I don't drink coffee (in general, ever)

明天 咖啡
I won't drink coffee tomorrow (I usually do, but tomorrow I won't)

Do you see the difference?

It's fairly straightforward, don't worry.

When you can't use

Remember how we said worked with almost all verbs? The only verb you can’t use with is (to have), in fact. With you use a different negation word .

can also never be used to talk about past actions. Conveniently, negating past actions also use the same negation word , which you'll learn in a next lesson.

All right, now you know everything you need to know about ! Time for a few sentence-building sessions with Yocha and you'll be all set to say no in Chinese with !

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