Beginner Lesson 16.1 – Have Vs. Don’t Have

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Have And Don't Have In Chinese | Measure Word Ge In Chinese

Learn how to say have and don't have in Chinese. Be able to use the Measure Word Ge and ask and answer quantities in Chinese.

  • Have and Don't Have in Chinese: 有  没有
  • Measure Word in Chinese (I). See also (II)(III).
  • Measure Word Ge in Chinese: 个
  • The Number Two in Chinese: 二 vs. 两 (II). See also (I) and (III).
  • Ask and answer quantities in Chinese



Grammar 1: 个 Measure Word Ge in Chinese · HSK 1

ge 个 the most commonly used Measure Word

Having Measure Words is one of the characteristics of Chinese language. When naming the quantity of something, we say:

Number + Measure Word + Noun

There are many different measure words for different kinds of objects. And the Measure Word Ge in Chinese is the most commonly used one. It is for anything that doesn't have a special Measure Word. (Also it can be used as a casual universal measure word in colloquial language.)

Generally, if you are not sure about which Measure Word to use, using 个 is good enough for people to understand you. Even though they can tell right away that you're not a native speaker.

Below are examples of Measure Word Ge in Chinese.

  • yíge lǎoshī
    one teacher
  • sānge gēge / jiějie / dìdi / mèimei
    三个哥哥 / 姐姐 / 弟弟 / 妹妹
    three big brothers / big sisters / little brothers / little sisters
  • sìge Zhōngguórén
    four Chinese people
  • wǔge péngyou
    five friends
  • yíge 'érzi / nǚ'ér 
    一个儿子 / 女儿
    a son / a daughter
  • yíge míngzi
    a name


Grammar 2: Have and Don't Have in Chinese · HSK 1

yǒu 有 to have (something)méiyǒu 没有 to not have (something)

When we have, possess, or own something, we use the verb 有. And if we don't have, possess, or own something, we use the verb 没有. So have and don't have in Chinese are expressed by 有 or 没有.

  • wǒ yǒu yíge píngguǒ
    I have one "ge" apple
  • wǒ méiyǒu gēge
    I don't have big brother

In English we can say "I don't have an apple" or "I don't have a teacher". But in Chinese, when using 没有, no number is used after 没有.

  • wǒ méiyǒu píngguǒ
    I don't have apple
  • wǒ méiyǒu yíge píngguǒ
    I don't have an apple


Grammar 3: The Number Two in Chinese 二 VS. 两 (II) · HSK 1

We learned in Lesson 14.1 that to say 2 o'clock we must say 两点, instead of *二点. When saying the quantity of objects / things, we also need to use 两 instead of 二.

  • liǎngge píngguǒ
    two apples
  • èrge píngguǒ
    two apples


Grammar 4: Ask and Answer Quantities in Chinese· HSK 1

When asking about the quantity of something, we need the Question Word 几 again, and here's the structure we use:

+ Measure Word + the Object

Q: nǐ yǒu jǐge píngguǒ
      how many "ge" apples do you have
A: wǒ yǒu liǎngge píngguǒ
      I have two "ge" apples


Q: nǐ yǒu jǐge jiějie
      how many "ge" big sisters do you have
A: wǒ yǒu liǎngge jiějie
      I have two "ge" big sisters

Collapse Comments
ChebPremium Student August 10, 2022 at 9:01 pm

Lili 老师,您好!谢谢您 Thank you for another amazing lesson! I’ve yet to come across another website or app as simple, yet comprehensive as yours. I’ve never had any fun learning a language until here.
I just have a question I’m hoping you can answer as I haven’t found anything online. When we use 有 to to say “don’t have”… Instead of saying, for example, 我没有, can we use the negative character bu and say 我不有?

ChineseFor.UsAcademic Team September 10, 2022 at 4:37 am

Please kindly see in Grammar 2, that the negation word for 有 in Chinese is 没. And we don’t use 不.

谢谢您!In HSK1 Lesson 8 I learned more on 没. Now it all makes much more sense!

Pili HdzPremium Student July 4, 2022 at 3:50 pm

Hello Lili.

In this lesson we learnt how to ask how many brothers/sisters someone has, but is also correct to say 你有哥哥吗? 你有弟弟吗?.

By the way, does exist a Chinese word for “siblings” or we can find the same case as in 爸爸妈妈?

芒树Premium Student December 18, 2018 at 8:20 am

I really appreciate your course but occasionally there are some mistakes in the English. Usually the kind that people coming from languages not as obsessed as English with articles make. Like “I don’t have little sister”. That’s the kind of mistake that speakers of Slavic or of Chinese languages typically make. That sentence sound really weird to native speakers. It’s “I don’t have a little sister”. You really need to put that article in there. Or did you do this on purpose? In which case I apologise for assuming it’s a mistake, but it still sounds weird…

Thanks for your comment. If it’s the translation of a Chinese example sentences, those “errors” are meant to be like that. We try to use literal translations as much as possible because it helps the students to get a better idea of how the Chinese sentences are put together. That’s why “missing article” and “incorrect word order” can be commonly seen. We don’t use liberal translation because once the word by word translation is given, students can already figure out the meanings of these sentences.

芒树Premium Student December 21, 2018 at 12:39 am

Hi Lili, thanks for this clarification, I understand.

But I was not only referring to translations of sample sentences. The instruction text of one exercise I recently did (Beginner Practice 16.2 – Character Writing), for example, reads: “Zhōu Tiānmíng 周天明 has a big family. He has one little sister, two big sister, three big brothers. He is Chinese, 21 years old and have had four English Teachers.” That can’t be on purpose, I thought, since it’s not a sample sentence translation and thus this non English grammar can serve no pedagogical purpose here. Plus it’s inconsistent – the plural is incorrect in “two big sister” but correct in “three big brothers”. “He […] have had” is obviously also incorrect.

It’s still clear what is meant of course and I am not suggesting that this is a major problem.

芒树Premium Student December 21, 2018 at 12:51 am

Like I said I do really appreciate this course and based on my reading of a bunch of reviews of different online Chinese learning tools, and trying out a few myself, I would say it is of great quality. But I think cleaning up your English in a few places could make it even better. I am not sure how many people care about this kind of thing (after all the point of this course is to learn Chinese, and as long as the instruction texts are understandable, there is no major problem), but I am sure some do! I think presenting your material flawlessly gives a good impression and contributes to creating trust in you as competent teachers.

Kind regards


Thanks for the feedback, we appreciate the support! In the future we’ll be more careful, also we plan to slowly remove English from our videos and lesson pages the further advanced the courses get.

MichaelPremium Student August 28, 2017 at 7:23 am

Hi Lili: please can you tell me why 一 is 2nd tone in these examples, but when we learned the numbers, it was 1st tone. Many thanks, Michael!

I’m glad you noticed it! The character 一 sometimes changes its tone. The rule is explained in Tone Drill Course Lesson 14.

MichaelPremium Student August 30, 2017 at 5:22 am

Ok thanks 谢谢 再见!

hungryfishiePremium Student December 8, 2023 at 6:28 am

Really having fun with the course so far. But why is 个 written in neutral tone? If I listen to how it is said, it leans more to the falling tone, so I wonder why this is. Thanks in advance!

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