Expressing "would rather" with "ningke"

宁可 (nìngkě) is used where the speaker wants to compare two unfavorable options, and choose a "unfavorable option" over a "most unfavorable option."

Using 宁可 with 也不


This construction puts 宁可 at the beginning of the sentence followed by 也不. 宁可 is followed by unfavorable option and 也不 is followed by most unfavorable option.

宁可⋯⋯ ,也不⋯⋯

Again, the speaker is choosing between two options, but this time places the preferable option first.


  • 宁可 没有 男朋友 ,也不 要 随便 找 一 个 男朋友 。I'd rather have no boyfriend than find a random one.
  • 我们 宁可 早到 也不 要 迟到 。We'd rather arrive early than late.
  • 宁可 输 ,也不 放弃 。He'd rather lose than give up.
  • 宁可 这个月 少 花 一点 ,也不 找 父母 要 钱 。I'd rather spend less money this month than ask my parents for money.
  • 妈妈 宁可 把 这些 东西 送 给 陌生 人 ,也不 扔掉 。Mother would rather give these old things to strange people than throw it away.

Using 宁可 with 也要

In this construction 宁可 is used a little differently. 宁可 is followed by unfavorable actions while 也要 is followed by things that you desire or something that you intend to achieve.


宁可 ⋯⋯ ,也要 ⋯⋯

Here the speaker must pay a price in order to complete or gain something, a bit like "even though X, I'm still willing to do Y."


  • 宁可 熬夜 也要 做完 。I'd rather to stay up tonight just to finish it.
  • 孩子们 宁可 不 吃饭 ,也要 多 玩 一会儿 。The kids would rather not to eat just to play a little longer.
  • 宁可 和 女朋友 分手 ,也要 留 在 国外 。He would rather to break up with his girlfriend just to stay abroad.
  • 宁可 花 一半 的 工资 租 房子 ,也要 一个人 住 。She would rather spend half of her salary just to live alone.

Using 宁可 with 与其

For more information, you can click 与其.

See Also

Sources and further reading