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Lesson 2 The difference between "have to" and "don't have to"

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You probably already know how to say “have to do something” in Chinese. You can use “得(děi)”. Do you know how to say “don’t have to”? Is it “不得(bù děi)”? Wrong? Watch this lesson to find out the correct way of saying “you don’t have to do something” in Chinese.

You will also learn Chinese sentences that are used quite often like “You have to rest” and “I don’t have to go to work tomorrow."

You probably already know how to say “have to do something” in Chinese. You can use “得(děi)”. Do you know how to say “don’t have to”? Is it “不得(bù děi)”? Wrong? Watch this lesson to find out the correct way of saying “you don’t have to do something” in Chinese.

You will also learn Chinese sentences that are used quite often like “You have to rest” and “I don’t have to go to work tomorrow."

Comments (46)

我可以问,“你明天得上班?”吧?我能不能也问,“你明天得不用上班?” Wǒ kěyǐ wèn,“nǐ míngtiān děi shàngbān?” Ba? Wǒ néng bùnéng yě wèn,“nǐ míngtiān děi bùyòng shàngbān?”
Kristi 1 year 6 months ago
The first one is good, but for the 2nd one, you may not say 得不用 (děi bú yòng). Both of these sound like a statement instead of a question though.
Yoyo Chinese 1 year 6 months ago
Please tell me what you think of this sentence; 我才刚到家
4308Kootenai 1 year 7 months ago
Did you mean 刚才(gāng cái) instead of 才刚? The correct one should be 刚才, or you may just use either 刚 or 才 by itself, but not 才刚.
Yoyo Chinese 1 year 7 months ago
不得, according to MDBG, is actually bù dé, "must not, not allowed to". Same characters, different reading for 得. The meaning is similar but not exactly the same, and I have no idea how common it actually is.
Alex Casey 1 year 9 months ago
You are right. You may use 不得 (bù de), but more commonly, it's in the form 不得不(bù de bù) + "verb". With the double negatives, it means "must" + "verb".
Yoyo Chinese 1 year 9 months ago
If i want to order someone to do something, should i use dei3 or yao4?
kcpmme 2 years 1 month ago
People commonly use 要(yào), which may sound more demanding.
Yoyo Chinese 2 years 1 month ago
I remember you have taught using "xiang3 yao4" structure to demand someone to do something. Am i right?
Serena Dinh 1 year 6 months ago
想要 (xǐng yào) is more for wanting to do something, not much of demanding someone to do something.
Yoyo Chinese 1 year 6 months ago
Oh bu4 hao3 yi4 si, I mean xiang3 rang4, not xiang3 yao4.
Serena Dinh 1 year 6 months ago
Yes, 想让 (xiǎng ràng) is to ask someone to do something, doesn't sound as demanding though.
Yoyo Chinese 1 year 5 months ago
Seriously useful! Thank you.
dreadnought 2 years 7 months ago
Thanks for the great video and learning materials. BTW - is it possible to reply to all comments using pinyin, even if the questioner asks using chinese characters? I like reading the comments and answers and try to add them to my vocab list everyday. But sometimes I can't look them up if i don't know where to start. Thanks!
马森 2 years 8 months ago
Thank you for your suggestion. We've been starting to type pinyin along with our Chinese characters too. :)
Yoyo Chinese 2 years 8 months ago
There is a great and free plug-in for both Firefox and Chrome called Perapera Chinese. When you have this plug-in turned on, when you move your mouse over a Chinese character, it will pop up the definition, pinyin, etc. right above the Chinese character. To get the plugin for Firefox, go to the menu and select "Add ons" and then search for perapera. In Chrome, use this link to add the extension https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/hlcddplhfenagbaipfjhhcjmebhkkaif
Corey 2 years 8 months ago
I use my ipad almost exclusively for yoyo chinese. Is there something equivalent to perapera for the ipad?
doufuren 2 years 6 months ago
i just installed perapera on my laptop firefox version. wanted to see what it was like. great tool but as i said previously i use my ipad most often. i did a search for ipad equivalents but could not find anything close to perapera. maybe someone has had more success and can share with us.
doufuren 2 years 6 months ago
I don't own an iPhone but on Android, the Chrome browser does not support adding plugins, so I'm guessing it would not be possible on Chrome without using a special browser (not Chrome), and there's probably the same issue with Safari in iPhone. The other thing you can do, though it's not as convenient, is to copy text from a web page to a dictionary app like Pleco. Pleco has a "clip reader" feature that's designed specifically for this type of issue. I use it a lot!
Corey 2 years 6 months ago
That's really helpful feature. Thank you Corey.
Yoyo Chinese 2 years 8 months ago
For don't have to, is bu2 bi4 interchangeable with bu2 yong4? I heard that phrase in behind the wheel chinese.
doufuren 2 years 8 months ago
Yes, they are interchangeable in general. In ancient Chinese, there are phrases only bu2 bi4 is used, but you don't have to worry about it unless you study linguistics. :)
Yoyo Chinese 2 years 8 months ago
Can you give me Hanzi of bu2 bi4?
Serena Dinh 1 year 6 months ago
It's 不必.
Yoyo Chinese 1 year 6 months ago
Hello, What is the difference between 得 and 必须? Thanks for great videos!
calebken 2 years 10 months ago
Both means have to. 必须 is stronger than 得. There's a little flexibility on 得, may be negotiable.
Yoyo Chinese 2 years 10 months ago
Shouldn't it be "yi ding yao"?
ChineseGuy 2 years 11 months ago
You may say "yi ding yao" too.
Yoyo Chinese 2 years 11 months ago
someone told me 'dei3' should be pronounced 'duh' rather than 'day'.. Ni Jue1de2 ma ? (or is there an expression for the English "Ya Think ?"
Bichon 3 years 9 months ago
It may be a dialect thing depends on the region they are in.
Yoyo Chinese Development 3 years 9 months ago
sorry. double post..
Bichon 3 years 9 months ago
i also had a problem with dei3.. my friend said it should be pronounced like 'duh' rather than 'day'. He never had a problem with any other words i used with him... is this a dialect difference ?
Bichon 3 years 9 months ago
It can be pronounced in both ways, but the meanings are different. dei3 means "have to". de is a word particle that is generally used when you want do describe how someone does something. For example, "She speaks well." is tā shuō de hěn hǎo.
Yoyo Chinese Development 3 years 9 months ago
no, this Chinese person was not refering to the 'de' particle. he prounced your lesson sentence as ' Nee duh showsee' and not 'nee day showsee'
Bichon 3 years 9 months ago
The standard way of saying "have to" is dei3.
Yoyo Chinese Development 3 years 9 months ago
Please what is the difference between "wo bu yong" (我不用) and "wo bu xuyao" (我不需要). xiexie :)
tuduri 4 years 3 weeks ago
"wo bu yong" (我不用) means I don't have to, and "wo bu xuyao" (我不需要) means I don't need to. They both are more or less the same depending on what kind of situation you use it on. In most of the cases, you may use either one.
Yoyo Chinese Development 4 years 3 weeks ago
Hello Yangyang, I am Chinese Cdn but when I ask my mother about "dei" she doesn't understand this word or maybe i'm saying it wrong. Anyways she tells me about "yidingyao", can you enlighten about different usage here or are they completely equal in contexts. Thx as my mother isnt that great in explaining! :P
thoughtengine 4 years 1 month ago
Hi toughtengine, may I ask where your mother comes from? It sounds to me that your mother is from Taiwan and Taiwanese people use "yi2 ding4 yao4" instead of "dei3". They both technically mean the same.
Yoyo Chinese Development 4 years 1 month ago
Yes, she is! Thx, I was also told by some cohorts that 'dei' is bit of a softer must/have to than yidingyao.
thoughtengine 4 years 1 week ago
Hello The sentence :I don't have to go to work tomorrow. Can we say 我明天不用去工作?
Sunmeiyu 4 years 1 month ago
That's correct! You got it Sunmeiyu. You may also hear some people say 我明天不用去上班 shàng bān. 上班 shàng bān also mean go to work. :)
Yoyo Chinese Development 4 years 1 month ago
Thank you,i got it :)
Sunmeiyu 4 years 1 month ago
Hello,why work is not gōng zuò ?
Lesnoj 4 years 3 months ago
That was my question (gong zuo v.s. shang ban). This is why I like this format and opportunities for clarification
Vera Dawes 3 years 5 months ago
"gōng zuò" means "work (noun)" or "to work (verb)“. In the example mentioned in the video, work refers to "go to work (office/company)". In that case, "shàng bān" is a better word. It's more accurate!
Yoyo Chinese Development 4 years 3 months ago
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