Level 1 Lesson 8.1 – I Didn’t Work At Home

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Negative Adverb 没 In Chinese | Compare 没 Vs. 不

In this video lesson we'll learn how to use the Negative Adverb 没 in Chinese. And we'll also compare 没 with another Negative Adverb in Chinese: 不.

  • Negative Adverb 没 in Chinese
  • Compare 没 VS. 没有
  • Compare 没 VS. 不
  • Compare 说话 VS. 说



Grammar 1: Negative Adverb 没 in Chinese · HSK 1

méi 没 is a Negative Adverb in Chinese. It is used for "negation of completing an action", meaning the action is not completed or has not be completed. We put 没 before a Verb:

Subject +  + Verb ( + Object ) 。

  • Lǐ Lǎoshī méi shuō Yīngyǔ 李老师没说英语。
    Teacher Li not (completed the action of) speaking English.
    Teacher Li didn't say (anything in) English.
  • wǒ méi xué Zhōngwén 我没学中文。
    I not (completed the action of) learning Chinese.
    I didn't learn Chinese.
  • tā méi shuìjiào 他没睡觉。
    He not (completed the action of) sleeping.
    He didn't sleep.


Grammar 2: COMPARE 没 VS. 没有 · HSK 1

When using as a Negative Adverb suggesting "not completing the action of something", 没 and 没有 are interchangeable, and can be used like this:

Subject /没有 + Verb (Object) 。

  • méi hē kāfēi喝咖啡。
    He not (completed the action of) drinking coffee.
    He didn't drink coffee.
  • méiyǒu hē kāfēi没有喝咖啡。
    He not (completed the action of) drinking coffee.
    He didn't drink coffee.

没有 can be used to suggest "not have something" or "not own something", which is a Verb Phrase (没 is the Adverb and 有 is the Verb). 没 can only be used as an Adverb.


Grammar 3: COMPARE 没 VS. 不 · HSK 1

Both 没 and 不 can be used to express a negative meaning.

Many people say that 没 is for the past tense and 不 is for the present tense, but that’s not always the case. 没 can also be used in the future tense, while 不 can also be used in the past tense.

We’ll compare them again in details when we learn about past and present in the future.

In today's lesson, for negation of Dynamic Verbs (Action Verbs), here's the differences:

没 + Dynamic Verbs
不 + Dynamic Verbs
the negation is objective the negation is subjective 
the negation is an actual fact
the negation suggests people’s will or judgement
/ the negation is habitual

For example:

  • méi mǎi diànnǎo 买电脑。
    I not (completed the action of) buying computer. 
    I didn't buy computer.  - as a fact
  • mǎi diànnǎo 买电脑。
    I don't (want to/ plan to) buy a computer.
    I'm not buying a computer.  - my plan
  • méi xiǎng nǐ想你。
    I not (completed the action of) missing you.
    I didn't miss you.  - as a fact, but I might want to miss you later
  • xiǎng nǐ 想你。
    I don't (want to/ plan to) miss you.
    I don't miss you.  - my free will

When the action is habitual or is a usually thing to happen, we use 不 instead of 没. For example:

  • tā bù hēchá
    She doesn't drink tea.
  • wǒ jiějie bú yòng diànnǎo
    My big sister doesn't use computer.


Grammar 4: COMPARE 说话 VS. 说 · HSK 1

to talk something to talk something to talk + something
to speak something to speak something to speak + something
/ to say + a quote
Lesson Content
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Why do we say 李老师没有买电脑 and not 李老是没有买一台电脑?
I’m still confused on when to use Measure Words Vs not.
Thank you

jeremygliksmanPremium Student February 9, 2019 at 4:39 am

I thought for equipment and machines we had to use 台. But here, youre using 部手机。Why 部 and not 台?

sumitpathak1982Premium Student August 27, 2018 at 9:30 am

我没在家工作。 Does this sentence structure follows the usual SUBJECT+VERB+OBJECT pattern. Thx.

No, “我-没-在家-工作。” is Subject-Adverbial-Prepositional Phrase as Adverbial-Verb Predicate.

ireonPremium Student November 6, 2017 at 5:07 pm

is there a difference for answering- wo zai xue xiao mei shuijiou. Pls explain.

我在学校没睡觉。- I didn’t sleep at the school (but maybe I slept somewhere else) Emphasizing the action of sleeping didn’t happen at school.

我没在学校睡觉。- I didn’t sleep at the school. Emphasizing the action of sleeping EXACTLY at school didn’t happen.

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