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How to Say “a Little” in Mandarin Chinese

Welcome to our Chinese learning series – Ask Litao. In each video of this new series, we’re going to answer your questions about learning Chinese.

Today’s question is from a British student, in the email he asked, “What’s the differences between 有点儿(yǒudiǎnr) and 一点儿(yīdiǎnr)?”

有点儿(yǒudiǎnr) and 一点儿(yīdiǎnr) have the same meaning of “a little bit”, but their uses are so different.

1. 有点儿(yǒudiǎnr) + Adjective
有点儿(yǒudiǎnr) is normally placed before an adjective to express your negative feelings about something.
For example,
昨天我有点儿不舒服。
Zuótiān wǒ yǒudiǎnr bù shūfu.
Yesterday I was a little bit uncomfortable.
It’s obvious that 不舒服(bù shūfu) is a negative feeling, and we add 有点儿(yǒudiǎnr) before 不舒服(bù shūfu) to describe the degree of this negative feeling, which is a little bit uncomfortable.

We normally don’t use 有点儿(yǒudiǎnr) to modify positive adjectives, so if you say 有点儿舒服(yǒudiǎnr shūfu), 有点儿好(yǒudiǎnr hǎo) or 有点儿漂亮(yǒudiǎnr piàoliang), that would be wired and wrong.

We can also use “有点儿(yǒudiǎnr) + adjective” to say that something is not what you want or expect. For example, you are shopping for clothes, you try on a shirt and find out it’s a little small, which is not the size you want, then you tell the shop assistant:
这件衬衣有点儿小。
Zhè jiàn chènyī yǒudiǎnr xiǎo.
This shirt is a little bit small.

有点儿(yǒudiǎnr) cannot be replaced with 一点儿(yīdiǎnr) in the two sentences. That would be totally incorrect if you say 昨天我一点儿不舒服(Zuótiān wǒ yīdiǎnr bù shūfu) or 这件衬衣一点儿小(Zhè jiàn chènyī yīdiǎnr xiǎo).

2. Adjective + 一点儿(yīdiǎnr)
一点儿(yīdiǎnr) is normally placed after an adjective, and often used when comparing, or tell people what you want or expect.
For example, Yesterday you were a little bit uncomfortable, and today you feel a little bit better. You can say:
昨天我有点儿不舒服, 今天我觉得好一点儿了.
Zuótiān wǒ yǒudiǎnr bù shūfu, jīntiān wǒ juéde hǎo yīdiǎnr le.
一点儿(yīdiǎnr) is placed after 好(hǎo), which means compare to what I felt yesterday, I’m a little bit better now.

The second example, after you told the shop assistant that the shirt you just tried on is a little bit small, 这件衬衣有点儿小(Zhè jiàn chènyī yǒudiǎnr xiǎo), then you ask if they can find you another shirt that is a little bit larger, you can say:
有没有大一点儿的(衬衣)?
Yǒu měiyǒu dà yīdiǎnr de (chènyī)?
The context is clear, so the second 衬衣(chènyī) is often omitted.
一点儿(yīdiǎnr) is put after 大(dà) to say that the shirt you want should be a little bit larger than the one you just tried on.

3. 一点儿(yīdiǎnr) + Noun
一点儿(yīdiǎnr) can be used before a noun to indicate small quantity. For example,
我买了一点儿水果.
Wǒ mǎile yīdiǎnr shuǐguǒ.
I bought a little fruit.

咖啡很苦, 我要加一点儿糖.
Kāfēi hěn kǔ, wǒ yào jiā yīdiǎnr táng.
The coffee is very bitter, I need to add a little sugar.
有点儿(yǒudiǎnr) cannot be used this way.

Here is a question for you:
How do you say “could you make it a bit cheaper?” when you’re bargaining in Chinese?
能一点儿便宜吗(Néng yīdiǎnr piányi ma)?
能便宜一点儿吗(Néng piányi yīdiǎnr ma)?
能便宜有点儿吗(Néng piányi yǒudiǎnr ma)?
Which one is correct?
Please leave you answer in the comments.

How to Say “a Little” in Mandarin Chinese

Welcome to our Chinese learning series – Ask Litao. In each video of this new series, we’re going to answer your questions about learning Chinese.

Today’s question is from a British student, in the email he asked, “What’s the differences between 有点儿(yǒudiǎnr) and 一点儿(yīdiǎnr)?”

有点儿(yǒudiǎnr) and 一点儿(yīdiǎnr) have the same meaning of “a little bit”, but their uses are so different.

1. 有点儿(yǒudiǎnr) + Adjective
有点儿(yǒudiǎnr) is normally placed before an adjective to express your negative feelings about something.
For example,
昨天我有点儿不舒服。
Zuótiān wǒ yǒudiǎnr bù shūfu.
Yesterday I was a little bit uncomfortable.
It’s obvious that 不舒服(bù shūfu) is a negative feeling, and we add 有点儿(yǒudiǎnr) before 不舒服(bù shūfu) to describe the degree of this negative feeling, which is a little bit uncomfortable.

We normally don’t use 有点儿(yǒudiǎnr) to modify positive adjectives, so if you say 有点儿舒服(yǒudiǎnr shūfu), 有点儿好(yǒudiǎnr hǎo) or 有点儿漂亮(yǒudiǎnr piàoliang), that would be wired and wrong.

We can also use “有点儿(yǒudiǎnr) + adjective” to say that something is not what you want or expect. For example, you are shopping for clothes, you try on a shirt and find out it’s a little small, which is not the size you want, then you tell the shop assistant:
这件衬衣有点儿小。
Zhè jiàn chènyī yǒudiǎnr xiǎo.
This shirt is a little bit small.

有点儿(yǒudiǎnr) cannot be replaced with 一点儿(yīdiǎnr) in the two sentences. That would be totally incorrect if you say 昨天我一点儿不舒服(Zuótiān wǒ yīdiǎnr bù shūfu) or 这件衬衣一点儿小(Zhè jiàn chènyī yīdiǎnr xiǎo).

2. Adjective + 一点儿(yīdiǎnr)
一点儿(yīdiǎnr) is normally placed after an adjective, and often used when comparing, or tell people what you want or expect.
For example, Yesterday you were a little bit uncomfortable, and today you feel a little bit better. You can say:
昨天我有点儿不舒服, 今天我觉得好一点儿了.
Zuótiān wǒ yǒudiǎnr bù shūfu, jīntiān wǒ juéde hǎo yīdiǎnr le.
一点儿(yīdiǎnr) is placed after 好(hǎo), which means compare to what I felt yesterday, I’m a little bit better now.

The second example, after you told the shop assistant that the shirt you just tried on is a little bit small, 这件衬衣有点儿小(Zhè jiàn chènyī yǒudiǎnr xiǎo), then you ask if they can find you another shirt that is a little bit larger, you can say:
有没有大一点儿的(衬衣)?
Yǒu měiyǒu dà yīdiǎnr de (chènyī)?
The context is clear, so the second 衬衣(chènyī) is often omitted.
一点儿(yīdiǎnr) is put after 大(dà) to say that the shirt you want should be a little bit larger than the one you just tried on.

3. 一点儿(yīdiǎnr) + Noun
一点儿(yīdiǎnr) can be used before a noun to indicate small quantity. For example,
我买了一点儿水果.
Wǒ mǎile yīdiǎnr shuǐguǒ.
I bought a little fruit.

咖啡很苦, 我要加一点儿糖.
Kāfēi hěn kǔ, wǒ yào jiā yīdiǎnr táng.
The coffee is very bitter, I need to add a little sugar.
有点儿(yǒudiǎnr) cannot be used this way.

Here is a question for you:
How do you say “could you make it a bit cheaper?” when you’re bargaining in Chinese?
能一点儿便宜吗(Néng yīdiǎnr piányi ma)?
能便宜一点儿吗(Néng piányi yīdiǎnr ma)?
能便宜有点儿吗(Néng piányi yǒudiǎnr ma)?
Which one is correct?
Please leave you answer in the comments.

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Submit a Comment