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I've heard phrases of the form 没得V, where V is a verb. Sometimes, the 没得 appears to function like 没, e.g.,

我没得选: I don't have a choice.

Sometimes, it appears to function like a softer, colloquial form of 不得 (i.e., as something like "needn't"), e.g.,

往事,是没得介意的: Don't worry about it, it's water under the bridge.

I also think I've heard it to mean something like "can't", e.g.,

周六咱俩打羽毛球,好不?: Let's play badminton on Saturday, ok?
不行,周末没得打。: No, we can't play on weekends. (I.e., the court is not available, maybe?)

I have three questions:

  1. What is the grammatical structure of these 没得V phrases? Is 得 acting like a full verb with V as its object? Is V a complement of some sort?
  2. Is 得 properly pronounced as full second tone (dé) here? (I assume so.)
  3. What are the most common uses of this structure? With what verbs does it most commonly appear?
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  • As a native speaker, I've never seen 往事是没的介意的. Maybe a more common example would be 跟他没得计较 (can't really argue with him)? EDIT: after I wrote this, I felt like 跟他没得计较 should fall in the first category... I'm confused about the "needn't" meaning. – gonnastop Mar 18 '12 at 18:13
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+50
  1. I think you've got the idea what this phrase means. In terms of the grammatical structure, you can think about "没法" or “没办法” analogous to "没得". They have similar meanings except that “没法” or “没办法” are more formal than "没得". 得 is mostly acting like a full verb with V (you can interpret 得 as the same meaning as the 得 in 得到), though it's also sensible to consider it as a compliment. Suggestion: Don't bother with this grammatical structure. "没得" is mostly used in informal speaking.

  2. Yes, it's pronounced as second full tone here, as you said, PROPERLY. However, it's not strictly followed. It depends on the context and your emotions, like, some people may pronounce as first full tone when they say the sentence quickly.

  3. The most common uses for this structure are 没得+比 \ 没得+看 \ 没得+选 \ 没得+用 \ 没得+上 \ 没得 + 玩. But actually, the structure is pretty flexible, feel free to change!

Hope it would help!

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  • Not first tone... I think it should be "light tone" (is it a proper translation of 轻声?) as there are two second tone characters coming out together. – coolcfan Feb 29 '12 at 5:39
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In fact not any verb can be used in this phrase. In my daily life I often say “没得说”(to describe something which is good) “没得选”(there is no choice)。and I think there is no need to learn this phrase, you will not find it in a chinese book except chinese novel.it's some kind of dialect

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I'm not a native speaker, but I've heard this usage, and it's my understanding it means something like "don't have anything" (= "nothing"). So in your first example, it means "nothing to choose" (= "no choice"). In your second example, "nothing to worry about". In your third example, "nothing to play".

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There is an entry in 现代汉语大词典, a Chinese-language dictionary, for this word:

没得〔沒-〕   
méi de
无, 没有。
 
茅盾《子夜》
我只能服从多数。要是你和壮飞意见一致, 我是没得什么说的!

My attempt at a translation:

not (to) have; no; none; not; to lack; un-; -less

Máo Dùn "Midnight"
I'll have to go with the majority; if you and Zhuang Fei both agree then I can't object.

On the other hand, 得 / dé is a verb with multiple meanings/translations (*), and I would expect it to be possible to negate it with 没, to get 没得 / méidé. I suppose that could have multiple meanings too. At normal conversational speeds, for 得 I would also expect speakers not to necessarily bother about making the distinction between the citation tone (2: méidé) and the neutral tone (5: méide).

Disclaimer: I'm a student; my spoken Chinese is not very good!

(*) Translations of 得 (CEDICT): to obtain; to get; to gain; to catch (a disease); proper; suitable; proud; contented; to allow; to permit; ready; finished

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As a Cantonese speaker, I'd say that 没得 is more of a Cantonese than a Mandarin expression. As you correctly suspected, it's basic sense is "can't."

我没得选: Can't choose.

是没得介意的: Can't get I back from the bridge.

The other verb is a "full" verb," and 没得 is a helping verb.

Not being a native Mandarin speaker, I can't 没得 guide you on pronunciation.

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  • 没得 not only in Cantonese but also in most southern China dialect, such as Sichuan dialect\Hunan dialect. – Ning Mar 5 '12 at 3:34
  • @Ning: That's probably true. But I spoke only for Cantonese because that's "my" dialect. – Tom Au Mar 5 '12 at 14:01
  • My mother tongue is also Cantoneses :) – Ning Mar 27 '12 at 16:42
  • This does not make sense in English: "Can't get i back from the bridge." It's not clear what is meant here. – goPlayerJuggler Mar 25 at 18:31
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As a native speaker, I don't use 没得 very much.

For its meaning, I agree with Dan's answer.

For its pronouncation, 得 is often pronounced as "de", not "dé" (second tone). This is beacuse 没 is also in second tone, and in Mandarin Chinese, when two second tone characters are spoken together, the second one should be in light tone. (There are more conventions like this in Mandarin Chinese, for example, when two third tone characters are spoken together, the first one should be in second tone...)

For the third question, I think that any verb that could have an object will be OK.

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I asked a native speaker and they said there is no such thing as 没得.

I don't think I've ever seen it in a textbook.

Where did you hear/see this?

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