Expressing "not even one"

In English we might want to say something like "I have absolutely no money, not even one penny." Expressing that "not even one" can take one of several forms, all of which are common in everyday Chinese.

Basic Pattern


This structure is usually used for emphasizing how little of something there is. 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


  • 句 话 没 说 。 jù huà dōu méi shuō.He didn't say a thing.
  • 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 is there not a single person here?
  • 没 吃 。 kǒu dōu méi chī.I haven't had a single bite.
  • 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 single foreign friend before coming to Shanghai.
  • 瓶 可乐 没 喝 。 píng kělè méi hē.She didn't drink a single bottle of cola.
  • 点 消息 不 知道 。 diǎn xiāoxi dōu bù zhīdào.I don't know a single thing.

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've never met this person even 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