Listen and download Lesson 12 of Basic Spoken Chinese
Literally: No exact equivalent in English.
Usage: Used as a negating word. Put before a verb or adjective, or on its own, as similar to English “no”. There is another negating word 没 méi that is used to negate the verb 有 yǒu (“to have”), as well as past actions. We will cover that negating word in future lessons. Let’s just focus on 不 bù for now.
Nǐ míngtiān lái kāihuì ma?——Bù, wǒ bùnéng lái.——Chén lǎoshī ne?——Tā yě bù yīdìng néng lái.
Are you coming to the meeting tomorrow? – No. I can’t make it. – How about Teacher Chen? – He may not be able to come either.
Nǐ zuìjìn guò de hǎo ma?——Wǒ zuìjìn guò de hěn bù hǎo, yālì tài dà, shuì bù hǎo jiào.
Have you been well of late? – No, I haven’t been well. I’ve been under too much pressure, and I haven’t been sleeping well.
Zánmen zǒu ba!——Bù, wǒ zài děng yīhuìr.
Let’s go! – No. I want to wait a bit longer.
开会 kāihuì (v.): to hold, start or attend a meeting e.g. 开会时间改了 kāihuì shíjiān gǎi le (“the meeting time was changed”), 开会的人都来了 kāihuì de rén dōu lái le (“all the people attending the meeting have arrived”), etc.
能 néng (v.): 1. can; to be able to; to be capable of e.g. 有人能帮我吗？ yǒu rén néng bāng wǒ ma? (“is there anybody who can help me?”), 他一分钟能打七十个字 tā yī fēnzhōng néng dǎ qīshí gè zì (“he can type 70 words a minute”), etc. 2. may; could e.g. 能不能请你帮个忙？ néng bù néng qǐng nǐ bāng ge máng? (“may I ask a favour of you?”), 你能再说一遍吗？ nǐ néng zài shuō yībiàn ma? (“could you repeat that?”), etc. 3. ability; capability (when used in compounds) e.g. 能力 nénglì (“capability; ability”) 4. talent (when used in compounds) e.g. 才能 cáinéng (“talent, ability”)
陈 Chén (prop. n.): Chen (common Chinese family name)
老师 lǎoshī (n.): 1. teacher e.g. 我要向老师请教问题 wǒ yào xiàng lǎoshī qǐngjiào wèntí (“I would like to ask for advice from the teacher”), 我的老师给我很大压力 wǒ de lǎoshī gěi wǒ hěn dà yālì (“my teacher puts me under a lot of pressure”) 2. (a polite term of address for an adult)
也 yě (adv.): also; too; as well; (in negative sentences) neither; either e.g. 我也去了 wǒ yě qù le (“I also went”), 你如果不去，我也不去 nǐ rúguǒ bù qù, wǒ yě bù qù (“if you don’t go, I won’t either”), etc.
最近 zuìjìn: 1. (adv.) recently; lately; of late e.g. 我最近买了一块地 wǒ zuìjìn mǎi le yī kuài dì (“I bought a piece of land recently”) 2. (adj.) nearest 最近的中国银行在哪里？ zuìjìn de Zhōngguó yínháng zài nǎlǐ (“where is the nearest Bank of China?”) 3. (adj.) latest; most recent 我来给大家分享最近的消息吧 wǒ lái gěi dàjiā fēnxiǎng zuìjìn de xiāoxi ba (“let me share the latest news with everyone”)
过 guò (v.): (among other common meanings) 1. to cross; to pass; to go across; to pass through e.g. 你过了安检吗？ nǐ guò le ānjiǎn ma? (“have you passed the security check?”) 2. (of time) to pass by; to pass 时间过得很快 shíjiān guò de hěn kuài (“time flies quickly”) 3. to spend time; to live e.g. 我希望你们过得好 wǒ xīwàng nǐmen guò de hǎo (“I hope you are all well”)
压力 yālì (n.): pressure; stress e.g. 他无法应对压力 tā wúfǎ yìngduì yālì (“he can’t cope with [the] pressure”)
大 dà (adj.): 1. big; large (opposite: 小 xiǎo “small; little”) e.g. 这个太大了 zhè ge tài dà le (“this is too big”) 2. mature; grown up e.g. 你多大了？ nǐ duō dà le? (“how old are you?”), 她比他大 tā bǐ tā dà (“she is older than him”), etc.
睡觉 shuìjiào (v.): to sleep e.g. 该睡觉了 gāi shuìjiào le (“it’s time to go to bed”), 你几点睡觉？ nǐ jǐ diǎn shuìjiào (“when do you go to bed?”), etc.
Did you know?
Unlike English and some other languages, Chinese does not have exact words for “yes” or “no”. Instead, when someone asks you a question, you repeat the verb they use to give an affirmative response, or add a negating word such as 不 or 没 to give a negative response. For example:
Nǐ shì jìzhě ma?——Shì./Bùshì.
Are you a journalist? – “Am” (Yes). / “Am not” (No).
Nǐ yǒu língqián ma?——Yǒu./Méiyǒu.
Do you have change? – “Have” (Yes) . / “Not have” (No).
Nǐ yào mǎi bīngqílín ma?——Yào./Bùyào.
Do you want to buy some ice cream? – “Want” (Yes). / “Not want” (No).
The closest equivalents to “yes” and “no” in Chinese are 对 duì (“correct; right”) and 不对 bùduì (“incorrect; wrong”), and 好的 hǎo de (“OK”) and 不要 bùyào (“not want”) or 不用 bùyòng (“no need”). In conversation 嗯 ń (typed: en) is often used as an affirmative grunt.