Expressing "would rather" with "ningke"

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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

Structure

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.

宁可⋯⋯ ,也不⋯⋯

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

Examples

  • 宁可 没有 男朋友 ,也不 要 随便 找 一 个 男朋友 。nìngkě méiyǒu nán péngyǒu, yě bù yào suíbiàn zhǎo yīgè nán péngyǒu.I'd rather have no boyfriend than find a random one.
  • 我们 宁可 早到 也不 要 迟到 。Wǒmen nìngkě zǎo dào yě bù yào chídào.We'd rather arrive early than late.
  • 宁可 输 ,也不 放弃 。nìngkě shū, yě bù fàngqìHe'd rather lose than give up.
  • 宁可 这个月 少 花 一点 ,也不 找 父母 要 钱 。nìngkě zhège yuè shǎo huā yīdiǎn, yě bù zhǎo fùmǔ yào qián.I'd rather spend less money this month than ask my parents for money.
  • 妈妈 宁可 把 这些 东西 送 给 陌生 人 ,也不 扔掉 。Māmā nìngkě bǎ zhèxiē dōngxī sòng gěi mòshēng rén, yě bù rēng diào.Mother would rather give these old things to strangers 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.

Structure

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."

Examples

  • 宁可 熬夜 也要 做完 。nìngkě áoyè yě yào zuò wán.I'd rather to stay up tonight just to finish it.
  • 孩子们 宁可 不 吃饭 ,也要 多 玩 一会儿 。Háizimen nìngkě bù chīfàn, yě yào duō wán yīhuǐ'er.The kids would rather not to eat just to play a little longer.
  • 宁可 和 女朋友 分手 ,也要 留 在 国外 。nìngkě hé nǚ péngyǒu fēnshǒu, yě yào liú zài guówài.He would rather to break up with his girlfriend just to stay abroad.
  • 宁可 花 一半 的 工资 租 房子 ,也要 一个人 住 。nìngkě huā yībàn de gōngzī zū fángzi, yě yào yī gè rén zhù.She would rather spend half of her salary just to live alone.

Using 宁可 with 与其

For more information, you can click 与其.

See Also

Sources and further reading

Books

HSK5