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Level 2 Lesson 6.1 – In the Company, Do You Think He Is The Busiest Or Not?

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Affirmative + Negative Questions in Chinese | A不A/A-not-A Questions in Chinese

In this video lesson we'll learn how to ask and answer Affirmative + Negative Questions in Chinese, which are also called A不A/A-not-A Questions in Chinese. We'll also learn about putting Time or Place Adverbial at the beginning of a sentence.

  • Verb 不 Verb
  • 有没有
  • Adjective 不 Adjecctive
  • Time or Place Adverbial at the beginning of a sentence



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Grammar 1: Ask Affirmative + Negative Questions in Chinese | A不A/A-not-A Questions in Chinese · HSK 2

Affirmative + Negative Questions in Chinese 正反疑问句 Zhèngfǎn Yíwènjù are a little different from asking a yes or no question in Chinese. A 正反疑问句 follows a special pattern like this:

A-not-A / A-不-A

The "A" here can be either a Verb (phrase) or an Adjective (phrase). And the 不 here has to be changed into the Neutral Tone.

(1) "Verb 不 Verb" Affirmative + Negative Questions in Chinese

  • nǐ dǒngbudǒng zhège Hànzì de yìsi
    (do) you understand this character's meaning or not understand
  • tā huìbuhuì kāichē
    (does) he know-how-to drive or not know-how-to


(2) "Adjective 不 Adjective" Affirmative + Negative Questions in Chinese

  • nǐde bàngōngshì yuǎnbuyuǎn
    (is) your office room far or not far
  • měitiān jiābān lèibulèi
    every day working overtime (is) tiring or not tiring


(3) 有没有 Affirmative + Negative Questions in Chinese

When the Verb is yǒu 有 to have, we can only use 没 for the negative.

  • nín zhège xīngqītiān yǒuméiyǒu shíjiān
    (do) you have time or not this Sunday
  • Zhāng xiānsheng yǒuméiyǒu háizi
    (does) Mr. Zhang have child or not have


Grammar 2: Affirmative + Negative Questions in Chinese for Two-Character Words · HSK 2

When the Verb or Adjective used to ask Affirmative + Negative Questions is a two-character word, we can ask the questions in two ways.

Suppose the word is formed with Character A+B, we can ask:

① AB-not-AB / AB-不-AB 

For example,

  • nǐ xīwàng bu xīwàng zìjǐ shì jīnglǐ
    (do) you hope or not hope (that) yourself is (the) manager
  • měitiān hē kělè jiànkāng bu jiànkāng
    (is) drinking cola every day healthy or not healthy

② A-not-AB / A-不-AB

For example,

  • nín jué bu juéde xiūxi shíjiān tài shǎo le
    (do) you think or not think (that the) rest time (is) too little
  • nǐ yígerén zài Běijīng kuài bu kuàile
    (are) you happy or not happy being in Beijing alone


Grammar 3: Answer Affirmative + Negative Questions in Chinese | A不A/A-not-A Questions in Chinese · HSK 2

To answer the Affirmative + Negative Questions in Chinese, for yes, we just say the Verb or the Adjective by itself, to answer no, we just say, 不Verb or 不 Adjective.

For example,

Q: wǒ měitiān dōu hěn xiǎng nǐ, nǐ ne? nǐ xiǎng bu xiǎng wǒ
     I miss you every day, and you? (do) you miss or not miss me
Y: xiǎng
     (yes, I do) miss
N: bù xiǎng
     (no, I do) not miss


Q: háizi, jīntian shì nǐde shēngrì, nǐ gāo bu gāoxìng
     child, today is your birthday, are you happy or not happy
Y: gàoxìng
     (yes, I am) happy
N: bù gāoxìng
     (no, I am) not happy


Grammar 4: Time or Place Adverbial at the Beginning of A Sentence · HSK 2

We learned that we can put the Time Adverbial before the Predicate and after the Subject. When the Adverbial suggest Place or Time, we can also put them at the very beginning of the sentence as well, before everything else.

For example, the following pairs of sentences have the same meaning.

(1) Time Adverbial at the beginning of a sentence

A: zhège xīngqīliù wǒ dǎsuàn  qù yùndòng
     this Saturday I plan to do exercise
B: wǒ dǎsuàn zhège xīngqīliù qù yùndòng
     I plan to this Saturday do exercise


(2) Place Adverbial at the beginning of a sentence

A: zài gōngsī li, tā zhègerén zuì yǒuyìsi
     in the company, he this-person (is) the most interesting 
B:  tā zhègerén zài gōngsīli zuì yǒuyìsi
     he this-person in the company (is) the most interesting
"he is the funniest one in the company"

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Collapse Comments
Johnny KPremium Student May 31, 2023 at 10:35 pm

I may be confusing with this structure: 我打算这个星期六去运动。My question is why 这个星期六 is put after打算 . because 这个星期六 is adverbial of time it should be put after subject (我)and before the verb (打算) following the rule S+time+predicate . My own way to say this sentence is 我这个星期六打算去运动。Can someone explain please?

ChineseFor.UsAcademic Team June 7, 2023 at 11:25 am

这个星期六 here is to modify 去运动 instead of 打算。

Prang ChanthyPremium Student October 28, 2022 at 6:21 pm

Dear teacher,
I faced difficulty to understand to use the words (有意思/没有意思)。Please help me to explain and give more examples of using these words, many thanks.

Jeremy WilliamsPremium Student March 2, 2022 at 12:52 am

In English, the AB—not—AB pattern is usually used to express frustration with somebody’s attitude or response: Are you coming or not coming? Make up your mind! Does it have the same nuance in Mandarin?

T.I.PPremium Student January 24, 2020 at 5:58 am

Could somebody please explain the structure used in 你一个人在北京快不快乐? I am not sure about the 你一个人. You one person, what does that suppose to mean? You as a person or simply you? Thanks!

Lit. You as one person. It stresses the fact that “你” is by themselves(alone) in 北京 , roughly translated: Are you happy being in Beijing by yourself.

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