没在开车 / 不在开车

Zerstoren64

Member
USA - English
I started using Rosetta Stone just to expand some vocabulary, but I've come across a grammar question. Rosetta Stone has the sentence:

这个男孩子没在开车。 But shouldn't it be 这个男孩子不在开车?

It also has the question: "他在吃一个苹果吗“ answered in the negative with "没有。” Shouldn't the correct response be: "不吃“ or ”不在吃。“

Rosetta Stone offers no grammar explanations whatsoever, but in my Chinese grammar books I only see 不 used for negatives except for 没有.

In this case, is 没 or 不 correct? Are they interchangeable? When is it appropriate to use one or the other?

Thanks for the help!
 
  • SeeEmpty

    New Member
    Cantonese, Mandarin - Malaysia
    没(有) and 不 by itself have slightly different usage, but "不 + verb" and "没 + verb" pretty much have the same meaning: "not currently doing something".

    Therefore, both 这个男孩子没在开车 and 这个男孩子不在开车 are having the same meaning: The boy is not (currently) driving a car.

    In the second example, 他在吃一个苹果吗 (Is he (currently) eating an apple), either 没有(No) or 没在吃(Not eating) or 不(No) or 不在吃(Not eating) is OK, but 不吃 would be inappropriate if what you want to say is "not eating", as it means "don't (like to) eat" (as in "He doesn't eat apple").

    Do note that when "不在" and "没在" are not following by a verb, they can have different usage and meaning.
     

    ridgemao

    Senior Member
    Chinese - Mandarin
    问:他在吃一个苹果么(Is he currently eating an apple)?
    答:没有,他不吃苹果(No, and he doesn't like eating apples or he never eats apples)。

    问:你吃龙虾么? (Do you eat lobsters?)
    答:不吃,我对它过敏。(No, I am allergic to it)
     

    xiaolijie

    Senior Member
    UK
    English (UK)
    没(有) and 不 by itself have slightly different usage, but "不 + verb" and "没 + verb" pretty much have the same meaning: "not currently doing something".

    Therefore, both 这个男孩子没在开车 and 这个男孩子不在开车 are having the same meaning: The boy is not (currently) driving a car.

    In the second example, 他在吃一个苹果吗 (Is he (currently) eating an apple), either 没有(No) or 没在吃(Not eating) or 不(No) or 不在吃(Not eating) is OK, but 不吃 would be inappropriate if what you want to say is "not eating", as it means "don't (like to) eat" (as in "He doesn't eat apple").

    Do note that when "不在" and "没在" are not following by a verb, they can have different usage and meaning.
    This is a great reply, SeeEmpty! And welcome to the forum :)
     
    I have noticed that some people use 没在 a lot.
    It doesn't sound so unnatural to me, but I'm not sure if it's widely accepted as the standard way.

    他在吃一个苹果吗 sounds a little unusual. It sounds like you believe the apple exists.
    We usually ask “他在吃苹果吗?”
    Using “一个” in interrogative sentences or negative sentences is not common.

    As for the question “他在吃苹果吗?”(Is he eating an apple), we usually answer “没吃”(he haven't eaten), “正在吃”(he is eating), “正要吃”(he is going to eat), “吃完了”(he has finished eating).
    Such kind of question can't be turned into the negative form simply.

    Sometimes you may ask something about a past experience, for example, “(你看见他的时候)他在吃苹果吗?”(Was he eating an apple), All “他不在吃”, “他没在吃”(he wasn't eating) and “他没吃”(he didn't eat) sounds fine. The latter might be the more standard way.(I'm not sure)

    I think I don't use “他不在吃苹果”. “他不在吃苹果吗” is fine, though.

    EDIT:
    Maybe 他不在吃苹果 is not what we will use everyday, and I don't know when I will use it.
    But to answer the question “他在用洗手间吗”, “他没在用” is fine. Maybe the 没在 is based on some past observations or implies the some kind of influence.

    I seldom use 不在 alone. I usually use it like this:
    如果他不在吃苹果,那他在干什么呢?
    难道不在吃苹果吗?
    他竟然不在吃苹果。
    他确实不在吃苹果。
    他并不在吃苹果。
    趁他不在吃苹果的时候,把苹果藏起来。
    ...

    没在 is not often used with future actions or actions.
    明天你来的时候,我应该不在工作(*没在工作)。
     
    Last edited:

    fromzh

    New Member
    Chinese
    yang is right, chinese will often omit quantity word at this state.
    他在吃一个苹果吗 as if the answer is an English learner. Is he eating an apple?
    same as "a horse is an animal of running fast"

    这个男孩子没在开车。we often say 这孩子没开车
     

    zhg

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    I agree with YangMuye, I don't think 不在 is the right word in this context. Imagine a senario, A and B saw two people driving by ,but it was so fast that A didn't see who was driving, so A asked B "是那个男孩子在开车吗?" , the most natural negative response of B would be “不,他没(有)在开车,是她女朋友在开车”.

    And for the apple question, 没有 is a shortened answer for 他没有在吃苹果. 不在 is not acceptable in my opinion.
     
    I have added an link for your reference.
    高顺全 2003 进行体、持续体的否定及相关问题《世界汉语教学》第4期


    我们对万字的语料包括近代作品《儿女英雄传》、《红楼梦》,现当代老舍、钱钟书、王朔等作家的作品以及期刊《作家文摘 》1993-1995等进行了统计,基本上没有发现“没在V”和“不在V”,也没有发现“没V着”。这似乎表明,现代汉语的进行体和持续体没有或者至少是很少使用这种否定格式。
    语料表明,“不在V”和“没在V”都很少使用。在我们统计的800万字的语料中,只发现3例“不在”。
    从语用的需要上看,由于进行体和持续体都是对动作或状态从正面进行陈述和描写,因此其否定表达式使用的可能性很小。实际语料很好地证明了这一点.
     

    BODYholic

    Senior Member
    Chinese Cantonese
    这个男孩子没在开车。 But shouldn't it be 这个男孩子不在开车?
    In my region, if someone asks "当时,那个男的在开车吗?". The most natural way (for us) of replying would be "没有。当时,那个男的没在开车。". Without a doubt, it's certainly okay to say "当时,那个男的不在开车" too.
    Note: 男孩子? 没到法定年龄, 应该不能开车吧。开车门倒无所谓。

    It also has the question: "他在吃一个苹果吗“ answered in the negative with "没有。” Shouldn't the correct response be: "不吃“ or ”不在吃。“
    I would also like to parrot what the rest had said, "他在吃一个苹果吗“ is totally not idiomatic in most situations. Unless, of course, your dying concern is if he is eating just *one* apple (and not two or more).

    Also, if someone really asks "他在吃一个苹果吗“ . It's ambiguous to say "没有。". Because I ain't sure if you are saying "No (implying--> he didn't eat any apple)" or "No (implying --> he is not eating just one apple but he is eating a few at one go). :eek:


    没(有) and 不 by itself have slightly different usage, but "不 + verb" and "没 + verb" pretty much have the same meaning: "not currently doing something".

    No, I have to say this is incorrect. As you are aware, we do not have grammatical tense in Chinese language. So we can merely determine the state of action(s) based on these few words - "不/没 + verb". With limited information, we never know if the action(s) is conducted in the past or current.

    当时,那个男的没在开车。 He wasn't behind the wheel at that point of time. (Maybe he is currently driving, maybe he's not. We do not know what is he doing now.)
    现在,那个男的没在开车。 The man is currently not driving.
     
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