(#17) Want, Don’t want / 要,不要

As seen in the previous post’s examples, to say you ‘want to’, you say ‘要’ yao4. On its own, it means ‘want’, and when used beside pronouns, it becomes clear someone wants something.

我要 wo3 yao4 I want
他们要 ta1 men2 yao4 They want

The usage is similar to English. You can say want + verb, or want + noun, or want + pronoun, but using it with verbs is probably the most commonly used.

吃午餐。wo3 yao4 chi1 wu3 can1. I want to eat lunch.
喝啤酒。wo3 yao4 he1 pi2 jiu3. I want to drink beer.
买新的高跟鞋。wo3 yao4 mai2 xin1 de1 gao1 gen1 xie2. I want to buy new heels.

To express the opposite, add ‘不’ bu4 to the front of ‘要’ and it becomes ‘不要’ bu4 yao4 – don’t want.

不要听!wo3 bu4 yao4 ting! I don’t want to to listen!
忘记做功课。bu4 yao4 wang4 ji4 zuo4 gong1 ke4. Don’t forget to do homework.
你们这么吵。ni3 men2 bu4 yao4 zhe4 me4 chao3. (You guys) Don’t be so noisy.

If you need to ask a question, there is two ways to form it.

吃苹果吗?ni3 yao4 chi1 ping2 guo3 ma1? Do you want to eat apple?

要不要吃苹果?ni3 yao4 bu4 yao4 chi1 ping2 guo3? Do you want or don’t want to eat apple?

In the first case, you simply add a ‘吗?’ ma1 to the end of sentence. Remember ‘你好吗?’ ni3 hao3 ma1?

In the second, even though the translated version sounds weird, it is really how we speak it in mandarin! As you can see, the ‘要不要’ yao4 bu4 yao4, which is directly translated as “want or dont want”, had turned into a “yes or no?” modifier to the sentence.

New Vocabulary:

  • 午餐 wu3 can1 lunch
  • xin1 new
  • 高跟鞋 gao1 gen1 xie2 high heels, stilettos
  • ting1 listen
  • 苹果 ping2 guo3 apple
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