Standard negation with "bu"
不 (bù) is generally used to negate a verb in the present or future, or to talk about what you do not do, as a habit. So expressing things like "I don't want to go" or "I'm not going" or "I don't eat meat" would be typical uses of 不 (bù).
The standard way to negate verbs in Chinese is with 不 (bù). To negate a verb, simply place 不 (bù) before it:
Subj. + 不 + Verb + Obj.
- 他们 不 是 坏 孩子。They are not bad kids.
- 我们 不 喝 酒。We don't drink alcohol.
- 我 今天 不 想 工作。I don't want to work today.
- 你 不 喜欢 我 吗？Do you not like me?
- 为什么 你 不 喜欢 喝 咖啡？Why don't you like to drink coffee?
Almost all verbs can be negated with 不 (bù) (unless you're talking about the past). The only verb that can never be negated with 不 (bù) is 有 (yǒu).
- 我 不有时间。
- 我 没有时间。I don't have time.
As it turns out, the structure with an adjective is basically the same as the one with a verb.
Subj. + 不 + Adj.
- 我 不 饿。I'm not hungry.
- 这 个 不 贵。This is not expensive.
- 公司 不 大。The company is not big.
- 老板 今天 很 不 高兴。The boss is very unhappy today.
- 我 哥哥 不 高，但是 很 帅。My older brother is not tall, but he is very handsome.
Sources and Further Reading
- HSK Standard Course 1 (pp. 16) Anything Goes (无所不谈) →buy
- Integrated Chinese: Level 1, Part 1 (3rd ed) (pp. 31) Anything Goes (无所不谈) →buy
- Chinese: An Essential Grammar, Second Edition (pp. 45) Anything Goes (无所不谈) →buy
- Modern Mandarin Chinese Grammar: A Practical Guide (pp. 146-150) Anything Goes (无所不谈) →buy
- Yoyo Chinese: Negation word 不