Jump to content
Learn Chinese in China


Historical switch from 无/無->没有 in Mandarin

Recommended Posts


Does anyone know when 没有 first came into usage (as opposed to 无 / 無)?

Am really looking for specific references (preferably in Chinese), but any "guesses" would also be welcome.


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
Site Sponsors:
Pleco for iPhone / Android iPhone & Android Chinese dictionary: camera & hand- writing input, flashcards, audio.
Study Chinese in Kunming 1-1 classes, qualified teachers and unique teaching methods in the Spring City.
Learn Chinese Characters Learn 2289 Chinese Characters in 90 Days with a Unique Flash Card System.
Hacking Chinese Tips and strategies for how to learn Chinese more efficiently
Popup Chinese Translator Understand Chinese inside any Windows application, website or PDF.
Chinese Grammar Wiki All Chinese grammar, organised by level, all in one place.



I am no scholar, and I don't have any references, but I am would think that the change would have taken place in the early 1900's at the close of the dynastys. lots of language reform took place during that time and it has transformed into modern day Chinese. My understanding is up until that time the Chinese wrote and spoke (i'm sure there are execptions) in classical Chinese.

Hope this helps.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Isn't 没有 a corrupted usage of 未有?

Or, a variant of 无有(=无).

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

“Does anyone know when 没有 first came into usage (as opposed to 无 / 無)?”


I can't give you the exact time when " 没有" first came into usage. Because as a philologic phenomenon, "没有" ,which was used by common citizens in their daily lives, had probably ocurred in the 1900 when great changes were happening in the whole society of China, even much earlier.

I am inclined that "没有" came to usage as the substitution of "无" in earlier period, maybe in Ming Dynasty, Yuan Dynasty or even the earlier Song Dynasty. Concretely speaking, it occurred in oral language. (We call it 白话.) Then, it also occurred in some literatures.

I research in http://guoxue.baidu.com/ (It's a large language source database on ancient Chinese)

"没有" occurred in

1.凌蒙初:《二刻拍案惊奇》 卷二十二 《痴公子狠使噪脾钱 贤丈人巧赚回头婿》


2. 吴承恩:《西游记》 第九回 《袁守诚妙算无私曲 老龙王拙计犯天条》


3. 施耐庵:《水浒传》 第四十九回 《珍解宝双越狱 孙立孙新大劫牢》


All of them are of Ming Dynasty. At least, it shows "没有" with the meaning of not have or not exist had come to use at that time.

But I need especially indicate that if you research “没有”in http://guoxue.baidu.com , you must distinguish the pronunciation of “没”in the results: Is it "méi" or "mò"? Because when it is the latter ,it doesn't mean "无", but the ancient Chinese "殁",which means to die or death.


I think it's better to say "没有" is a substitution ,not an opposite of "无".

I recommend another language source database in Peking University:


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and select your username and password later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Click here to reply. Select text to quote.

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...