Use of 都
Right-WingnutSeptember 16, 2013, 06:06 AM posted in Grammar Questions
A quick question regarding the sentence "这些孩子我们都不喜欢".
Is 都 considered to go with 这些孩子 or with 我们?
That is, does the sentence say "We don't like all of these children" or does it say "All of us don't like these children". Or can it be interpreted either way?
You can say 这个孩子我们都不喜欢 which means "All of us don't like this child". You can also say 这些孩子我都不喜欢 meaning "I don't like all of these children". So the 都 can go with either the topic or the subject. My issue is how to interpret this sentence when both the topic and the subject are clearly plural.
I realise that there is very little difference between the two interpretations, other than what part of the sentence is being stressed. So what does this 都 stress - 'we' or 'the children'?
Since I asked this question a day ago, I've actually asked a number of different Chinese speakers this same question. And I am getting a variety of different answers.
There are those who insist it means "All of us", and there are those who insist on "all of these children"
Then there is someone who says the meaning depends on whether you stress the 这些孩子 or whether you stress the 我们.
And finally there is someone who says the opposite of you, claiming it means 'We don't like all of these children' and that 'All of us don't like these children' would be 我们都不喜欢这些孩子.
I guess it all depends on where you come from. And also that 'c' word - context.
Lacking context for 这些孩子我们都不喜欢, my first guess would be as Connie said. "Everybody dislikes (we all dislike) these kids." I would consider the 都 to go with 我们 because it immediately follows 我们. This is one of those sentences where the topic is set forth at the beginning, then you talk about it. What about these kids? "Everybody" dislikes them.
I guess you can't correctly say "We dislike all these kids" unless you say 这些孩子我们一个都不喜欢. "We dislike all these kids" and "We don't like any of these kids" amount to the same thing but with different emphasis, in English. Wonder if there's a way to express such a difference in Chinese also.
I suppose if a native speaker insists that 这些孩子我们都不喜欢 means "We dislike all these kids", then that's what it means to them. And those listening to them will understand, from context. Even though, because it's grammatically not the most correct expression, a teacher won't agree.
(btw "We don't like all of these children" adds to the confusion too.)
Hi Connie, I think if Chinese learners of English and Chinese teachers to English speakers got used to saying "dislike" in addition to "don't like" for 不喜欢, it would be really helpful.
Of course "don't like" works well, maybe better, in many instances. But this is one case where the meaning gets confused, and saying "dislike" would help clear it up.
veronique21September 17, 2013, 08:38 AM
Very interesting question... and interesting answer ! I have another question: I've always wondered how to say "I don't understand everything (of what is said)". "I don't understand (at all)" is 我听不懂 but how to express "not everything" in general ?
1. I don't understand everything (of what is said).
2. "not everything"
connieSeptember 17, 2013, 08:03 AM
这些孩子我们都不喜欢。the translation should be, 'All of us don't like these children.'
'We don't like all of these children.' in Chinese is '这些孩子我们一个都不喜欢。'