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Expressing "all" with "shenme dou"

什么⋯⋯ 都 / 也 (shénme... dōu/yě) is a pattern often used to express "all" or "everything." Because it's not just one word, though, it can be a little tricky to get the hang of at first.

Basic Structures

什么⋯⋯ 都 / 也 (shénme... dōu/yě)

In this structure, 都 (dōu) is more frequently used than 也 (yě)。

Topic + 什么 + 都 / 也 + Verb / Adj.

Examples

  • 我 觉得 这里 的 菜 什么 好吃。Wǒ juéde zhèlǐ de cài shénme dōu hǎochī. I think everything is delicious here.
  • 中国 的 历史 爸爸 什么 知道。Zhōngguó de lìshǐ bàba shénme dōu zhīdao. My dad knows everything about Chinese history.
  • 工作 的 事情 老公 什么 跟 我 说。Gōngzuò de shìqing lǎogōng shénme dōu gēn wǒ shuō. My husband tells me everything about work stuff.
  • 家务活 我 什么 会 做。Jiāwùhuó wǒ shénme dōu huì zuò. I can do every kind of housework.
  • 我女朋友 觉得 外国 的 东西 什么 好。Wǒ nǚpéngyou juéde wàiguó de dōngxī shénme dōu hǎo. My girlfriend thinks that all foreign things are good.

Targeted Structures

Structures with a Noun

什么 + Noun + 都

Examples with Nouns

  • 我们 什么 喝。Wǒmen shénme jiǔ dōu hē. We can drink any alcohol.
  • 什么 衣服 是 黑色 的。shénme yīfu dōu shì hēisè de. All of her clothes are black.
  • 妈妈 做 的 什么 好吃。Māma zuò de shénme cài dōu hǎochī. All of the dishes mom makes are tasty.
  • 我男朋友 什么 运动 喜欢。Wǒ nánpéngyou shénme yùndòng dōu xǐhuan. My boyfriend likes all kinds of sports.
  • 你 不 应该 什么 跟 他 说。Nǐ bù yīnggāi shénme huà dōu gēn tā shuō. You shouldn't tell him everything.

Negative Structures

Structures with 不/没

The negative structure simply adds a 不 (bù) or a 没 (méi) after the 都 (dōu) / 也 (yě). Instead of "all" or "everything," this expresses "none" or "not any."

什么 + Noun + 都 / 也 + 不 + Verb Phrase

什么 + Noun + 都 / 也 + 没(有) + Verb Phrase

Negative Examples

  • 生病 以后,爸爸 什么 能 喝 了。Shēngbìng yǐhòu, bàba shénme jiǔ dōu néng hē le. After dad got sick, he can't drink any kind of alcohol.
  • 老板 现在 很 生气,什么 见。Lǎobǎn xiànzài hěn shēngqì, shénme rén jiàn. The boss is very angry. He's doesn't want to see anybody.
  • 今天 我 不 舒服,什么 东西 吃。Jīntiān wǒ bù shūfu, shénme dōngxī dōu méi chī. Today I'm not well, so I didn't eat anything.
  • 昨天 开会 的时候,她 什么 说。Zuótiān kāihuì de shíhou, tā shénme huà méi shuō. She didn't say anything at yesterday's meeting.
  • 你 在 家里 怎么 什么 做?Nǐ zài jiālǐ zěnme shénme shì dōu zuò? How come you haven't done anything at home?

Beyond 什么

This pattern also works with other question words, such as 哪儿 (nǎr) and 谁 (shéi). In these cases, 哪儿 (nǎr) or 哪里 (nǎli) would mean "everywhere," and 谁 (shéi) would mean "everyone."

Structures

哪儿 / 哪里 + 都 / 也 + Verb Phrase

谁 + 都 / 也 + Verb Phrase

Examples

  • 我 太 累 了,哪儿 想 去。Wǒ tài lèi le, nǎr dōu xiǎng qù. I'm too tired. I don't want to go anywhere.
  • 他 来 上海 以前,哪里 去 过。 Tā lái Shànghǎi yǐqián, nǎlǐ dōu méi qù guò. Before he came to Shanghai, he hadn't gone anywhere.
  • 在美国, 知道 Obama。Zài Měiguó, shéi dōu zhīdao Obama. In America, everyone knows Obama.
  • 喜欢 看 美女。 Shéi dōu xǐhuan kàn měinǚ. Everyone likes to look at beautiful girls.

See also

Sources and further reading

Books