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Expressing "only" with "zhi"

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There are a number of different ways to express "only" in Chinese, but 只 (zhǐ) is the most basic one you need to learn first. It's an adverb, so it normally comes before verbs.

Structure

The adverb 只 (zhǐ) can come directly before a verb, or before an auxiliary verb like (huì) or (néng).

只 + Verb

只 + 会 / 能 + Verb

Examples

  • 有 一 个 哥哥。zhǐ yǒu yī gè gēge.I only have one older brother.
  • 我们 有 十块 钱。Wǒmen zhǐ yǒu shí kuài qián.We only have ten RMB.
  • 我们 公司 有 两个员工。Wǒmen gōngsī zhǐ yǒu liǎng gè yuángōng.Our company only has two employees.
  • 爱 吃 肉 吗?zhǐ ài chī ròu ma?Do you only like eating meat?
  • 他们 会 说 英文。Tāmen zhǐ huì shuō Yīngwén.They can only speak English.
  • 能 说 两 句 中文。zhǐ néng shuō liǎng jù Zhōngwén.I can only say two sentences in Chinese.
  • 你们 要 咖啡 吗?Nǐmen zhǐ yào kāfēi ma? Do you only want coffee?
  • 我 老婆 要 一个 孩子。Wǒ lǎopo zhǐ yào yī gè háizi.My wife only wants one child.
  • 宝宝 会 走,不 会 跑。Bǎobao zhǐ huì zǒu, bù huì pǎo.The baby can only walk. He can't run.
  • 想 跟 你 在 一起。zhǐ xiǎng gēn nǐ zài yīqǐ.I only want to be with you.

See Also

Sources and further reading

Books