In every language I know, the expressions for saying someone does not need to do something are often used to say they had better not do it. Suppose I want to tell someone in an e-mail, in Chinese, that they do not need to do something and I really just mean they do not need to. They can if they want. What is a good way to say that without implying they should not do it?

I am concerned specifically with the difference between "don't need to" and plain "don't". I might want to say "You don't need to bring snacks to the party" without anyone thinking I mean "Don't bring snacks to the party."

In that case, I do not want to suggest the person not bring snacks. It is fine if they bring snacks. I would even like that. But they are not required to bring snacks.

  • How do you say, 'but I want to'?
    – Mou某
    Commented Apr 24, 2015 at 2:12

3 Answers 3


You can use 用不着. It is not so strong as the formal words. But people will understand that you really don't need them to do so.

e.g. 你用不着带零食到聚会上来。


Generally 不用.

e.g.你不用担心。 You don't need to worry/Don't worry.

你不用说。 You don't need to say./Needless to say....


e.g.你不需要这么早起床。 You don't need to get up so early.

你不需要药。 You don't need medicine.

不必 (which is kind of odd or archaic)

e.g.你不必再谢他了。You don't need to thank him.

无须 (which is also very formal)

e.g.无须细说。No need to talk about the details.


"Don't" means forbidden in Chinese. And normally with strong emotion.

Don't = 禁止 (forbid), 不许 (not allowed)

Don't smoke in toilet.

"Not need to" is normally with less emotion. It could be treated like suggestions or advices.

"Not need to" = 何必 (why push yourself to this circumstances)

你何必这么执着 You don't need to push it

= 无须 (something or action is not necessary )


You don't need to worry about the exam

= 干嘛 (oral daily use, it actually gives negative suggestion. It is NOT a question, just a advice)


You don't need to fight so hard.

  • Thanks. But I do not mean to give a suggestion or advice. I just mean to say that some action is not required..I will edit the question. Commented Apr 24, 2015 at 14:49
  • 1
    何必 is very formal and mostly used in questions since 何 is a question word (what/how/why/which). 无须 is OK, but again, formal language. The rest of your sentences are not exactly what OP is looking for.
    – imrek
    Commented Apr 24, 2015 at 17:20

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