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Expressing "not very" with "bu tai"

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Chinese-grammar-wiki-tai.jpg

You may be familiar with using 太 (tài) to express "too," such as when something is "too expensive" or "too hot." 不太 (bù tài) is a similar pattern for the negative, which just means "not very" or "not so" (literally "not too"). Note that this pattern does not normally use 了 (le).

不太 (bù tài) with Adjectives

Structure

Subj. + 不太 + Adj.

Note: This pattern can also be used with non-adjectives. See below for more info.

Examples

  • 我 家 不 太 大。Wǒ jiā bù tài dà.My house is not too big.
  • 那 个 地方 不 太 远。Nàge dìfang bù tài yuǎn.That place is not very far away.
  • 老板 今天 不 太 高兴。 Lǎobǎn jīntiān bù tài gāoxìng.The boss is not very happy today.
  • 这 个 店 的 衣服 不 太 贵。Zhège diàn de yīfu bù tài guì. The clothes in this shop are not too expensive.
  • 我 觉得 他 不 太 聪明。Wǒ juéde tā bù tài cōngming.I think he is not too smart.

不太 (bù tài) with Verbs

Structure

This pattern can be used with some psychological verbs (e.g. 喜欢 (xǐhuan), 想 (xiǎng), 明白 (míngbai)), as is the case with the next examples. These verbs are relatively limited.

Subj. + 不太 + Verb

Examples

  • 不 太 懂 。bù tài dǒng.I don't really understand.
  • 不 太 会 说 英语 。bù tài huì shuō Yīngyǔ.I can't really speak English.
  • 他们 不 太 想 去 。 Tāmen bù tài xiǎng qù.They don't really want to go.
  • 我 哥哥 不 太 喜欢 他 的 工作 。Wǒ gēge bù tài xǐhuan tā de gōngzuò.My older brother doesn't really like his job.
  • 不 太 明白 老板 的 意思 。bù tài míngbai lǎobǎn de yìsi. He didn't really understand what the boss meant.

See also

Sources and further reading

Books

{{Source|Integrated Chinese: Level 1, Part 1|180-181) →buy