City University of Hong Kong CLASS CLASS
Making Sense of Grammar
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Are the negation markers méi (沒) and méiyǒu (沒有) interchangeable?

asked Jan 2, 2018 in Questions about Chinese Grammar by admin (25,520 points) | 350 views

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The negator m´eiy˘ou can be used without y˘ou when negating a completed event. For instance, the meaning of the two sentences 他昨天沒有來 (tā zuó tiān méi yǒu lái/ He did not come yesterday.) and 他昨天沒來 (tā zuó tiān méi lái) are exactly the same.

However, 沒有 (m´eiy˘ou) cannot be shortened to  (m´ei) if the negation marker is placed to negate an existential sentence. For example, 有 (y˘ou) cannot be omitted in the sentence 我沒有很多書 (w˘o m´ei y˘ou h˘en-du¯o sh¯u/ I do not have many books.) because it functions as the predicate of an existential sentence.

Reference: Chinese: a linguistic introduction by Chao Fen Sun

answered Jan 2, 2018 by admin (25,520 points)
edited Apr 25, 2018 by admin

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