Expressing "not often" with "bu zenme"
You might be tempted to conclude that 不怎么 (bù zěnme) seems to mean "not how," but it actually means "not often" when used together with a verb.
When 不怎么 is used with a verb, it means that one does not put a lot of time or energy into doing it. In other words, the action is done "not often." When the verb is used with an object, it also means that the number (or quantity) is really small.
Subj. + 不怎么 + Verb
- 他 不怎么 爱 说话 。He doesn't like talking too much.
- 我 老公 不怎么 运动 。My husband doesn't exercise very often.
- 我们 在家 不怎么 看 电视 。We don't watch a lot of television at home.
- 我 儿子 不怎么吃 零食 。My son doesn't eat snacks very often.
- 老板 不怎么 来 办公室 。My boss doesn't come to the office very often.
- 我 不怎么 在 网上 买 东西 。I don't online shop very often.
- 他们 不怎么 跟 朋友 出去 玩 。They don't often go out and have fun with friends.
Usage of 没怎么
Note that the examples below use 没 instead of 不. This is because the verb uses or implies 有 and thus it uses the same the 有 negation rules.
- 我 没 怎么 复习 。I didn't review much.
- 我 没 怎么 想 过 这个 问题 。I didn't really think about this before.
- 昨天 我 肚子 不 舒服 ，没 怎么 吃 东西 。My stomach didn't feel well yesterday, so I didn't eat much.
Lastly, make sure to use 不怎么 with a verb if you want it to mean "not often." Using it with an adjective gives it a different meaning.
Sources and further reading