How to Use "非" and "无"

Posted by Lilian Li on September 8, 2017

how to use er and liang

As the study progressed, foreign students will begin to encounter some words left from ancient Chinese. Most of these words are monosyllabic, meaning complicated because of historical precipitation. Today we are going to learn two words, "fēi 非" and "wú 无". Because these two words are similar in meaning, they are easily confused by foreign students.

The words left over from ancient Chinese have two important characteristics:they are mostly monosyllabic and have complex meanings. The complexity of meaning is manifested in the inclusion of multiple parts of speech. Because the part of speech is different,the usage is different. Therefore to distinguish "fē i非" and "wú 无", we need to start from here.

First of all, we should distinguish the meaning of “fēi 非”and “wú 无”.

1.the basic meaning of “fēi 非”:

1) no,not: bù 不, bú shì 不是。eg."非法<Fēifǎ>"(illegal; unlawful)

2) fault, mistake: eg. "痛改前非<Tòng gǎi qián fēi>"(repent thoroughly of one's misdeeds;make a determined effort to turn over a new leaf.)

3) must, always appear with “bù kě 不可”: eg."我今天非看这个电影不可。<wǒ jīn tiān fēi kàn zhè gè diàn yǐng bù kě >。" (I must watch this movie today.)

4) blame, oppose: eg. "非难<fēi nàn>" (criticism, blame, or disapproval)

5) Refers to “Afrikaner” (located in the southwest of the Eastern Hemisphere. Referred to as "Africa".) eg."非洲<fēi zhōu>"(Africa), "东非<dōng fēi>"(East Africa), "北非<běi fēi> "(North Africa)

2. Basic meaning of “wú 无”:

1)éi yǒu 没有; no,not,used to deny verb.and adj: eg."无法相信<wú fǎ xiàng xìn">(unbelievable)

2)bù 不: eg.wú gū 无辜(innocent)

Now we know even the two words contain the meaning of "not", in fact these are two completely different words. But even if they all have the meaning of “not”, their usage and meaning are not the same.

1.When the adjective comes after them,

Eg. fēi fǎ   wéi bèi fǎ lǜ
非法 (illegal)= 违背法律 (against the law)
wú fǎ       méi yǒu bàn fǎ
无法 (impossible)= 没有办法 (no way)

2.When the noun comes after them

Eg. fēi rén     bú shì rén
非人 (Non-human)= 不是人(not a person)
wú rén     méi yǒu rén
无人 (No one)= 没有人 (nobody.)

Therefore, in some degree, “fēi 非”is similar with “bú shì 不是” while “wú 无” is similar as “méi yǒu 没有”. In addition, these two words also have their own unique usages.

1.wú fēi 无非(nothing but)

tā néng zuò de wú fēi jiù shì liú zài zhè lǐ jì xù gōng zuò。
她能做的无非就是留在这里继续工作。
(All she can do is stay here and work.)

nǐ de bāng zhù bú huì shì wú cháng de。
你的帮助不会是无偿的。
(Your help will not be unpaid.)

2. fēi ...bù kě 非...不可(must)

wǒ fēi xué hǎo hàn yǔ bù kě。
我非学好汉语不可。
(I must learn Chinese well.)

 

 

Here are some exercise: choose the correct one

A.fēi 非 B.wú 无

1)zhè yàng de jié guǒ wǒ ()fǎ jiē shòu
这样的结果我()法接受。

2)tōng guò ()fǎ tú jìng huò dé de xìn xī yīng jí shí shān chú
通过()法途径获得的信息应及时删除。

3)xiàn zài shì ()cháng shí qī ,yóu qí yīng gāi zhù yì gè rén wèi shēng
现在是()常时期,尤其应该注意个人卫生。

4)shì shì biàn huà ()cháng ,wǒ men yīng zhēn xī zì jǐ de shēng huó
世事变化()常,我们应珍惜自己的生活。

5)xià zhōu yī shì wǒ de shēng rì ,nǐ ()lái bú kě
下周一是我的生日,你()来不可。

 

 

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About The Author

Lilian Li

Lilian has a master’s degree in linguistics and didactics from Rennes University in France. An expert in linguistics and educational psychology, she has taught Chinese as a foreign language for several years, primarily in France. Her classes follow a logical and thorough path to ensure students build a methodology of learning that will continue to help them improve their language ability. She likes jogging, swimming, partying, and hang out with friends!

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