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Chinese Grammar: Saying all with 都

How do you say 'both', 'all', 'both not/neither', 'all not', 'not both', 'not all' in Chinese? There’s just one word to know in Chinese to cover all that! Okay, two, if you add because what you want to say has a negative meaning. That’s it.

Let's start with seeing how we'd say that word in Chinese.

All, every

Meet , your new favorite everything. It is used to express "all" in Chinese. It's a handy word to know, and now that you know it, you'll be seeing it pop up everywhere!


The key thing to note is that is always placed after the subject in Chinese.

S + + [verb phrase]


他们喜欢 跳舞
They all like to dance.

大家 公共汽车 学校
Everyone takes the bus to go to school.

上海北京 广州 中国
Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou are all in China.

Be flexible: is plural

It's important to be flexible and to keep in mind that has different translations depending on how you use it: it can mean "all", "every", but it can also mean "both", and, when in a negative sentence, it can also mean "neither".

as both

So is also your go-to-word to say "both".


[Subject which is two people or things ] + + [Verb Phrase]

can then accompanied by (with, and).


爸爸 游泳
My father and I both like swimming.

咖啡牛奶 好喝
Both coffee and milk are delicious.

Not all vs. All not

is a straightforward structure. Place it after the subject, and you're good to go.

What you do need to get straight is its negative form. There are two different structures, to say “all not” and “not all”. Both use the same characters but in two different orders! It follows the same order as in English, so it’s pretty simple.

Not all:


Subject + + V+ Object


西瓜 好吃
Not all watermelons are delicious.

明天 我们 上班
Not all of us need to work tomorrow.

男人 喜欢 女人[nǚ rén; nv rén]。
Not all men like women.

All not:


Subject + + V+ Object


None of them came.

妈妈 妹妹 运动
Neither my mother nor my sister like sports.

鸡蛋 好吃
No eggs are tasty.

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