City University of Hong Kong CLASS CLASS
Making Sense of Grammar
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What is the difference between bì xū (必須),  bì xū (必需), and xū yào (需要)?

asked Jan 22, 2018 in Questions about Chinese Grammar by admin (25,170 points)
edited Jan 22, 2018 by admin | 368 views

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In order to distinguish the differences between  bì xū (必須),  bì xū (必需), and xū yào (需要), we have to examine the definitions of xū (須) and xū (需).

Though both words can be roughly translated as "need" in English, their usages are quite distinctive in Chinese: xū (須) means "must" or "have to," while xū (需) indicates "need" or "require."

Therefore, bì xū (必須) is an adverb expressing the notion that somebody have to do something. 

→ 你明天必須交作業 (nǐ míng tiān bì xū jiāo zuò yè/ You have to hand in your homework tomorrow.)

bì xū (必需) is an adjective describing something which is indispensable or objectively needed.

→ 食物是生活所必需的 (shí wù shì shēng huó suǒ bì xū dí/ Food is indispensable in our lives.)

xū yào (需要) is a verb indicating something or somebody is needed by somebody.

→ 我需要你的愛 (wǒ xū yào nǐ dí ài/ I need your love.)

answered Jan 22, 2018 by admin (25,170 points)
edited Apr 25, 2018 by admin

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