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What does 非也 mean?

I heard it used here:

Is this XXX? 非也! It's YYY!

Does it mean "Oh my god!" or something?

Thank you very much!

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非也 is an expression in classical Chinese. It's like to say 'no' in Old English. It can be used in a modern Chinese dialogue to sound humorous, sarcastic or pedantic. –  NS.X. Jun 30 at 20:33
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非也 is used a lot by one character 包不同 in Jin Yong's famous novel 天龙八部 Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils –  lgylym Jul 2 at 12:06
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7 Answers 7

up vote 7 down vote accepted

也 is classified into 虚词(lit. imaginary word) in classical Chinese. 虚词, unlike its counterpart of 实词(lit. real word), doesn't have a meaning, but it's indispensable to some grammatical functions. It can:

  1. express the mood
  2. Complete a sentence structure.
  3. Work as an interjection or preposition.
  4. work as a filler to make a sentence satisfy the requirement on the number of characters. This mainly happens to poems.

也 is generally used at the end of a sentence to complete a declarative sentence, so in your case, 非也 means "(it's) not (so)".

generally you won't use this pattern today, but you can use it in a funny way. As in English, you can say "thy bidding, master" :)

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It basically just means no. 非 is no, 也 is just a modal.

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What is a modal? –  Bob the zealot Jun 30 at 18:51
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its something thats doesnt have a meaning itself, like ah, eh in english, well, im not an english speaker, but i think it is like that. –  user1596808 Jun 30 at 18:55
    
A modal refers to an expression of "mood" which is usually something subjective, so I don't think 也 should be called a modal. www-01.sil.org/linguistics/GlossaryOfLinguisticTerms/… The grammar of the phrase is from classical/old Chinese and is similar to how English speakers say "carpe diem" without having any clue of Latin grammar. –  無色受想行識 Jun 30 at 19:27
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也 is not a modal particle; rather, it is a copula (similar to the word 'to be' in English or 是 in Modern Chinese) that appears at the end of a sentence in Classical Chinese. 非 means "not so", so 非也 as a whole means "it is not so". –  Claw Jun 30 at 20:01
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非也sounds like This is not so or in some context it meansNot at all in classical chinese.
It is an elegant way of saying not.

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也 in "非也" does not mean "also". It is a modal showing certainty.

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Just like other answers, I'd say it basically means "no" in Chinese, but just let you know this word is not popular nowadays. It is a word that used in ancient Chinese. Now it's just 不 for "no".

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Is this XXX? 非也! It's YYY! = Is this XXX? NO! It's YYY!

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非也 literally means "not also". There's an implication that you've given more than one wrong answer in the recent past. OR literally "you should already know the answer to this question". Or in hip-hop slang, "you ain't know?"

非 - means 'not' or 'without'. 也 - isn't just simply a modal, it means "also" which literally implies a slight 'annoyance' with your question and while it is not generally used in big cities, it is still very much used in villages and the countryside (as I've watched it used on several current Chinese TV shows that center around village life within the past few years).

Sometimes Chinese slang really reminds me of so-called Ebonics in the west. There is a 'feigned annoyance' with your mates or buddies that is actually a tool for bonding.

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No, it doesn't mean or imply that. You're confusing the modal particle 也 in Classical Chinese with the modern adverb 也. –  Semaphore Jul 2 at 13:37
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