The Difference Between 不 and 没

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不 and 没 are both adverbs, which can be followed by verbs or adjectives.

 

E.G.

Wǒ bú qù Běi jīng.

去北京。I won’t go to Beijing.

Wǒ méi qù Běi jīng.

去北京。I didn’t go to Beijing.

Tā bú shòu.

瘦。He isn’t thin.

Tā méi shòu.

瘦。He hasn’t got weight loss.

Difference

01

没 negates objective facts and is mostly used in the past and present tenses.

 

E.G.

Tā zuó tiān méi lái xué xiào.

她昨天来学校。(in the past)

She didn’t come to school yesterday.

Zhè ge shǒu jī méi huài.

这个手机坏。(in the present)

This cell phone is not broken.

不 negates subjective will and feelings and can be used in the past, present and future tenses. 

E.G.

Wǒ zuó tiān bù shū fu, suǒ yǐ qǐng jià le.

我昨天舒服,所以请假了。(in the past)

I didn’t feel well yesterday, so I asked for leave.

Wǒ xiàn zài bú è.

我现在饿。(in the present)

I’m not hungry now.

Wǒ míng tiān bú qù xué xiào.

我明天去学校。(in the future)

I won’t go to school tomorrow.

By the way, 不 is often used to negate a habit. 

 

E.G.

Tā chī sù, bù chī ròu.

他吃素,吃肉。He is a vegetarian, so he doesn’t eat meat.

Tā bù chōu yān, bù hē jiǔ.

抽烟,喝酒。He doesn’t smoke or drink.

02

没 only goes with a limited number of modal verbs and psych verbs, such as 能,敢,想 and so on. It’s always used in past events.

E.G.

Wǒ méi néng bāng tā.

能帮他。I couldn’t help him.

Wǒ méi gǎn jìn qù.

敢进去。I didn’t dare to go in.

Wǒ méi xiǎng bāng tā.

想帮他。I didn’t want to help him.

不 can go with all modal verbs and psych verbs. It can be used in the past, present and future events.

E.G.

Tā bú huì kāi chē.

会开车。She can’t drive.

Wǒ bù xǐ huan kàn diàn shì.

喜欢看电视。I don’t like watching TV.

Nǐ bù yīng gāi hē tài duō.

应该喝太多。You shouldn’t drink too much.

03

To negate the verb 有,you can only use 没; to negate the verb 是,you can only use 不.

 

E.G.

Wǒ méi yǒu gē ge.

没有哥哥。I don’t have a brother.

Fáng zi li méi yǒu rén.

房子里没有人。There is no one in this house.

Wǒ bú shì xué sheng.

不是学生。I‘m not a student.

Tā bú shì Měi guó rén.

不是美国人。He is not American.

04

没 can only be used with a few adjectives to negate the change of a situation.

 

E.G.

Tā de bìng hái méi hǎo.

她的病还好。

She is not well yet.

Hǎo jiǔ bú jiàn, nǐ méi pàng yě méi shòu, hái shì yǐ qián nà yàng.

好久不见,你胖也瘦,还是以前那样。

Long time no see. You look the same as before.(neither gain nor lose weight.)

不 can be used with most adjectives to negate the state of somebody or something.

 

E.G.

Tā de dì di bù gāo.

他的弟弟高。His brother is not tall.

Zhè ge bāo bù hǎo kàn.

这个包好看。This bag is not nice.

05

没 can be followed by a noun, to indicate 没有. But 不 can NOT be followed by a noun.

 

E.G.

Tā méi qián mǎi xīn shǒu jī.

钱买新手机。He has no money to buy a new cell phone.

Kā fēi diàn li méi jiǔ, zhǐ yǒu kā fēi.

咖啡店里酒,只有咖啡。There’s no wine in the coffee shop but coffee.

06

没关系 and 不客气 are fixed expressions. They are used in response to apologies and thanks respectively.

 

E.G.

Duì bu qǐ.

-对不起。I’m sorry.

Méi guān xi.

没关系。Never mind.

Xiè xie.

-谢谢!Thank you!

Bú kè qi.

不客气。You’re welcome.

The End

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