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Expressing "would rather" with "ningke"

宁可 (nìngkě) is used where the speaker wants to compare two unfavorable options, and choose a "unfavorable option" over a "most unfavorable option."

Using 宁可 with 也不


This construction puts 宁可 at the beginning of the sentence followed by 也不. 宁可 is followed by unfavorable option and 也不 is followed by most unfavorable option.


Again, the speaker is choosing between two options, but this time places the preferable option first.


  • 宁可 没有 男朋友,也不 要 随便 找 一 个 男朋友。I'd rather have no boyfriend than find a random one.
  • 宁可 输, 也不 想 放弃。He'd rather lose than give up.
  • 宁可 在 公司 加班,也不 想 把 工作 带 回家。I'd rather work late in the office than take my work home.
  • 宁可 每天 吃 方便面,也不 找 父母 要 钱。He'd rather eat instant noodles every day than ask his parents for money.
  • 宁可 把 这些 东西 送 给 陌生 人,也不 会 扔掉。I'd rather give these old things to strange people than throw it away.

Using 宁可 with 也要

In this construction 宁可 is used a little differently. 宁可 is followed by unfavorable actions while 也要 is followed by things that you desire or something that you intend to achieve.


宁可 ……,也要 ……

Here the speaker must pay a price in order to complete or gain something, a bit like "even though X, I'm still willing to do Y."


  • 宁可 几 天 不 睡觉,也要 完成 这 个 项目。I would be willing not to sleep for a few days just to finish this project.
  • 他们 宁可 花 光 所有 钱,也要 治 好 女儿 的 病。They would spend all my money to cure their daughter's disease.
  • 我们 宁可 多 花 点 钱,也要 解决 这 个 问题。We'd rather spend some more money to solve this problem.

Using 宁可 with 与其

For more information, you can click 与其.

See Also

Sources and further reading