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Expressing "not even one"

In English we might want to say something like "I have absolutely no money, not even one penny." That "not even one" is the focus of this article.

Basic Pattern


This structure is usually used for emphasizing how little of something you have. The measure word in the middle of the sentence and the noun should be compatible with the verb at the end.

一 + Measure Word + (Noun) + 也 / 都 + 不 / 没 + Verb


  • 没 吃 。 kǒu dōu méi chī.I didn't take a single bite.
  • 句 中文 不 会 说 。 jù Zhōngwén dōu bù huì shuō.He can't speak one sentence of Chinese.
  • 为什么 这里 个 人 没有 ? Wèishénme zhèlǐ gè rén dōu méiyǒu? Why aren't there any people here?
  • 句 话 没 说 。 jù huà dōu méi shuō.He didn't say a thing.
  • 瓶 酒 没 喝 。 píng jiǔ méi hē.She didn't drink a bottle of wine.
  • 点 消息 不 知道 。 diǎn xiāoxi dōu bù zhīdào.I don't know any information.
  • 来 上海 以前 , 他 个 外国 朋友 没有 。 Lái Shànghǎi yǐqián, tā gè wàiguó péngyou dōu méiyǒu.He didn't have a foreign friend before he came to Shanghai.

Advanced Pattern


If you want to put the topic of your conversation at the beginning of the sentence, make sure the comment which follows has a strong emphasis or some kind of extreme quality.

Topic + Subj. + 一 + Measure Word + (Noun) + 也 / 都 + Verb


  • 这个 人 没 见 过 。 Zhège rén méi jiàn guo.I haven't seen this person once.
  • 这样 的 菜 没 吃 过 。Zhèyàng de cài méi chī guo.I've never eaten this kind of food before.
  • 这 次 活动 我们 公司 个 人 没 参加 。 Zhè cì huódòng wǒmen gōngsī gè rén méi cānjiā.Not one person in our company has participated in this activity.

See also

Sources and further reading