Standard negation with "bu"

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不 (bù) is generally used to negate a verb in the present or future, or to talk about what you do not do, as a habit. So expressing things like "I don't want to go" or "I'm not going" or "I don't eat meat" would be typical uses of 不 (bù).

Negating Verbs


The standard way to negate verbs in Chinese is with 不 (bù). To negate a verb, simply place 不 (bù) before it:

Subj. + 不 + Verb + Obj.


  • 他们 坏 孩子。Tāmen shì huài háizi.They are not bad kids.
  • 我们 酒。Wǒmen jiǔ.We don't drink alcohol.
  • 我 今天 想 工作Wǒ jīntiān xiǎng gōngzuò.I don't want to work today.
  • 喜欢 我 吗? xǐhuan wǒ ma?Do you not like me?
  • 为什么 你 喜欢 喝 咖啡?Wèishénme nǐ xǐhuan hē kāfēi?Why don't you like to drink coffee?

Almost all verbs can be negated with 不 (bù) (unless you're talking about the past). The only verb that can never be negated with 不 (bù) is 有 (yǒu).

  • 时间。yǒu shíjiān.
  • 时间。méiyǒu shíjiān.I don't have time.

Negating Adjectives

As it turns out, the structure with an adjective is basically the same as the one with a verb.


Subj. + 不 + Adj.


  • 饿 è.I'm not hungry.
  • 这 个 Zhège guì.This is not expensive.
  • 公司 Gōngsī .The company is not big.
  • 老板 今天 很 高兴Lǎobǎn jīntiān hěn gāoxìng .The boss is very unhappy today.
  • 我 哥哥 ,但是 很 帅。Wǒ gēge gāo , dànshì hěn shuài.My older brother is not tall, but he is very handsome.

See also

Sources and Further Reading