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Emphasizing quantity with "dou"

都 (dōu) is one of those words that on the surface may seem simple, but actually has many different subtle uses. In this article, we will look at using (dōu) to emphasize quantity.

Structure

You can use 都 (dōu) to emphasize the large quantity of something. The subject should be some sort of large group (like a majority of people or things), e.g. 很多人 (hěn duō rén) or 大家 (dàjiā).

Subj. + 都 + Verb + Obj.

Examples with 很多 (hěn duō)

First let's look at some typical examples using 很多 (hěn duō) to emphasize that it's "a lot." Note that in English, it would be totally redundant and unnecessary to add "all" into these sentences, but in Chinese it's totally natural (and kind of weird not to). If you remember to follow the rule and keep using the 都 (dōu), eventually it will become more natural for you too.

  • 很 多 地方 有 wifi。Hěn duō dìfang dōu yǒu wifi.A lot of places have wifi.
  • 我 的 很 多 朋友 有 车。Wǒ de hěn duō péngyou dōu yǒu chē.A lot of my friends have cars.
  • 很 多 美国人 喜欢 喝 咖啡 。 Hěn duō Měiguó rén dōu xǐhuan hē kāfēi.A lot of Americans like drinking coffee.
  • 很 多 孩子 不 喜欢 上学。Hěn duō háizi dōu bù xǐhuan shàngxué.A lot of kids don't like to go to school.
  • 很 多 年轻人 想 在 大 城市 工作。Hěn duō niánqīng rén dōu xiǎng zài dà chéngshì gōngzuò.A lot of young people want to go to work in big cities.

Examples with 大家 (dàjiā)

Now let's look at some examples using 大家 (dàjiā) or "everyone." Again, in English, it would be totally redundant and unnecessary to add "all" into these sentences, but in Chinese it's totally natural (and kind of weird not to). You just have to get used to it.

  • 大家 来 了 吗?Dàjiā dōu lái le ma?Is everyone here?
  • 大家 应该 知道。Dàjiā dōu yīnggāi zhīdào.Everyone should know.
  • 大家 说 你 很 聪明。Dàjiā dōu shuō nǐ hěn cōngming.Everyone says you're smart.
  • 大家 忘 了 他 的 名字。Dàjiā dōu wàng le tā de míngzi.Everyone forgot his name.
  • 大家 喜欢 吃辣 吗?Dàjiā dōu xǐhuan chī là ma?Does everyone like eating spicy food?

Examples with 每天 (měi tiān)

One other common way to use 都 (dōu) is when you're talking about something that happens really often, such as "every day": 每天 (měi tiān). Use 都 (dōu) here in Chinese, even if it feels unnatural. (Fake it 'til you make it!)

  • 每天 要 上班 。 měi tiān dōu yào shàngbān.I have to go to work every day.
  • 老师 每天 迟到。 Lǎoshī měi tiān dōu chídào. The teacher comes late every day.
  • 每天 不 吃 早饭。 měi tiān dōu bù chī zǎofàn.Every day, she does not eat breakfast.
  • 我 女朋友 每天 上 淘宝 。 Taobao is China's biggest online shopping website.Wǒ nǚpéngyou měi tiān dōu shàng Táobǎo.My girlfriend goes on Taobao every day.
  • 妈妈 每天 给 我们 做 晚饭。 Māma měi tiān dōu gěi wǒmen zuò wǎnfàn.Mom cooks dinner for us every day.

For more uses with 每 (měi), see also: Expressing "every" with "mei".

Other Examples

Here are some other examples that don't use 很多 (hěn duō) or 大家 (dàjiā) or 每天 (měi tiān), but are still quite typical:

  • 美国人 说 英文。Měiguó rén dōu shuō Yīngwén.Americans all speak English.
  • 我们 五 个 人 去。 Wǒmen wǔ gè rén dōu qù.All five of us are going.
  • 四川人 喜欢 吃辣。Sìchuān rén dōu xǐhuan chī là.Sichuanese people all like eating spicy food.
  • 我 的 家人 没 去 过 中国。Wǒ de jiārén dōu méi qù guo Zhōngguó.None of my family members has been to China.
  • 我 的 学生 喜欢 问 问题。 Wǒ de xuéshēng dōu xǐhuan wèn wèntí.My students all like to ask questions.

See also

Sources and further reading

Books