都 dōu, 都不 dōubù, 不都 bùdōu

In some sentences, we can see “都 dōu”, “都不 dōubù” and “不都 bùdōu”. What are the differences among these three Adverbs? How do you use them correctly? This article helps you know and use them better.

Meanings of 都, 都不, 不都

Meanings of “都 dōu”, “都不 dōubù” and “不都 bùdōu”.

In Chinese, “都 dōu”, “都不 dōubù” and “不都 bùdōu” are all Adverbs. They are used to refer to the elements which come before them. Therefore, the structure should be:


Subject (plural) + 都/都不/不都 + Verb/Adj.


The most distinctive difference is the meaning they express:

都 dōu = all

都不 dōu bù = none of

不都 bù dōu= not all, (i.e. some do, some don't)

1. 都dōu (all)

Wǒmen dōu xǐhuɑn.

我们喜欢。

We all like (it).



Shuǐɡuǒ dōu xīnxiān.

水果新鲜。

The fruits are all fresh.



Tāde yīfu dōu hěn ɡuì.

他的衣服很贵。

His clothes are all very expensive.



2. 都不 dōubù (none of)

Wǒmen dōubù xǐhuɑn.

我们都不喜欢。

None of us like (it).



Shuǐɡuǒ dōubù xīnxiān.

水果都不新鲜。

None of these fruits are fresh.



Tāde yīfu dōubú ɡuì.

他的衣服都不贵。

None of his clothes are expensive.



3. 不都 bùdōu (not all of)

Wǒmen bùdōu xǐhuɑn.

我们不都喜欢。

Not all of us like (it).



Shuǐɡuǒ bùdōu xīnxiān.

水果不都新鲜。

Not all of these fruits are fresh.



Tāde yīfu bùdōu hěn ɡuì.

他的衣服不都很贵。

Not all of his clothes are very expensive.



When Verb Has An Object

In a sentence, when the verb has an object, and you want to use “都dōu”, “都不dōubù” and “不都bùdōu” to modify that object, the object should be moved to the head of the sentence.


Object + Subject + 都/都不/不都 + Verb/Adj.


Niúnǎi hé chá wǒmen dōu xǐhuɑn.

牛奶和茶我喜欢。

I like both milk and tea.



Hónɡsè hé hēisè wǒ dōubù xǐhuɑn.

红色和黑色我都不喜欢。

I like neither red, nor black.



Zhè xiē shū wǒ bùdōu xǐhuɑn.

这些书我不都喜欢。

I don’t like all these books.



Vague Meaning

When the Subject is in plural form and the Object is put at the beginning of the sentence, it maybe unclear whether 都 dōu is referring to the Subjects or Objects. Therefore, without knowing the context of the conversation, the meaning will be vague. Only the context will tell us which meaning is implied. E.g.

Zhèxiē shū wǒmen dōu yào.

这些书我们要。



could mean:


  • We all want these books. (都dōu referring to “We”)
  • We want all these books. (都dōu referring to “these books”)
  • We all want all these books. (都dōu referring to both “We” and “these books”)

  • In this article, we covered two types of sentence patterns. To learn more, you can read 5 basic sentence structures in Chinese. Chinese is a highly pattern-based language. Knowing these structures will help you converse more freely in Chinese.

    If you want to improve your comprehensive skills of mandarin, such as reading, writing, and speaking, you can also join our 1-on-1 skype Chinese lessons and receive guidance from a professional and experienced online Chinese tutor.

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