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pprendeville

不 vs 没

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pprendeville

I keep getting mixed up as to when I should and shouldn't be using bu and mei when negating things? Can someone explain the grammatical differences between the two words?

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Shelley

The way I understand it is 没 used for verbs and 不 is used for everything else.

For example: He didn't go to school today = 他今天没去学校. Qu is a verb so mei is used to negate it.

And bu is used here: for example: 我不喜欢下雪. i don't like it when it snows. Here you are negating the word like.

This a tricky one because although there is a rule it sometimes doesn't apply as with all grammatical rules there always seems to be an exception to it.

It will become clearer the more you study. i remember my first chinese teacher saying saying that as long as you never say 不有 and always 没有 you will be ok:) I think you find it easier as you progress.

Good luck

Shelley

P.S. I hope i got this right as it still after 25 of years of learning it can still catch me out.

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pprendeville

Very good answer. Thanks. 25 years wow. A long time. Only in my first year of serious study after a few half hearted attempts. In university studying it. Tough going.

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icebear

Here 喜欢 is a verb (to like).

A better rule of thumb for a beginner level is that 没 is used to negate past actions (not going to school at some prior time) while 不 is used to negate actions in the present or future (not going to school today, after the sentence is spoken, or ever again). There can be more nuance added to that, but early on this is a relatively easy distinction to wrap get a grip on.

These may be helpful:

http://resources.all...rammar/ASGIPYFV

http://resources.all...rammar/ASGIVZJU

http://resources.all...rammar/ASGAUCXK

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Shelley

This is a much better answer than mine. Much clearer.

My example was taken from my text book (which i consulted just to make sure i got it right) I wonder why it gave that one?

喜欢 is a verb in this case, as you rightly say, so now i am confused:) Is it wrong to use 不 here?

Most things you might want to negate seem to be verbs. if you want say that something is not black that is not a verb, but i find it hard to think of many like this.

I will now apply your rule of thumb for a while and see if i can get it straight in my mind.:)

Thanks icebear

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icebear

不喜欢 is correct because it describes a general state of things - I generally dislike something (not specific to any particular period of time).

A better answer include that 喜欢 is a verb that isn't completed (i.e. I can't complete the action "like"), thus I either do it, or don't (不). Other verbs, such as 去, can be successfully completed, so normally for past actions you would say it was or wasn't (没) completed. That's only a slightly more nuanced answer, and probably too broad (or poorly worded) for someone that has studied grammar thoroughly.

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Shelley

Brilliant answer, it all becomes clear.

Thank you

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anonymoose
The way I understand it is 没 used for verbs and 不 is used for everything else.

For example: He didn't go to school today = 他今天没去学校. Qu is a verb so mei is used to negate it.

And bu is used here: for example: 我不喜欢下雪. i don't like it when it snows. Here you are negating the word like.

他今天不去学校 is a perfectly acceptable sentence.

You can also say, for example, 男朋友说从来没喜欢过我.

The main difference between 不 and 没 is that 不 is used for "subjective negation", whereas 没 is used for "objective negation". I just made these terms up myself, but by "subjective negation", I mean that the negation of the relevant verb is a result of subjective will, or choice, whereas "objective negation" means the negated action is an objective fact.

Therefore, 没 is usually used for past situations because, having already taken place, the objective factuality has already been established - thus the frequent usage as in 他昨天没去学校. However, in the right context, one could also say 他昨天不去学校, where what is being described is not the objective fact that "he did not go to school yesterday", but rather his subjective will to not go to school - "he would not go to school yesterday (because he feared being reprimanded by the teacher...)".

没 is not usually used for current or future situations (although there was a debate on another thread about the use of 没在), because current and future events are dependent on subjective will (even if it is the will of god, or in other words, the action is outside the normal sphere of influence).

However, one should also note habitual uses such as 没有 and 无奇不有.

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shinewind

不can't be followed by nouns while 没can't be followed by adjectives. see below:

adj.:不漂亮 没漂亮(WRONG)

v.:不吃 没吃

n.:不信心(WRONG) 没信心

The difference between”不+V.”and “没+V.” is the latter indicates a action taking place in the past.

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pprendeville

all really helpful replies guys. many thanks for the Chinese Grammar Wiki Link icebear

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