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"他原来什么都不知道"

Shouldn't it be 他原来什么都没(有)知道 to show that we're talking about the past tense here?

  • 没 would indicate talking about the past, this certainly has been discussed at this site before and elsewhere on the web, but 原来 does not necessarily imply the past – user6065 Aug 19 '16 at 22:08
  • duplicating prev. A? cf。"实用现代汉语语法",常用副词的用法,十五、不、没(有)(三)"不"和"没(有)"的区别1。在意义上,"不"否定判断、意愿、事实,而"没有"否定动作行为发生或状态实现。如"哪个营业员见我们来了也不站起来"和"她根本没有看见我们,所以没站起来"中""不"和"没"的意思不同。前一句的"不站起来"的"不"有"不肯"的意思。后一句的"没站起来",只表示动作没有发生,不涉及意愿。再如:(1)我不打乒乓球。(否定意愿、事实)我没打乒乓球。(否定动作发生)(2)那个西红柿不红。(否定性质)那个西红柿没红。(否定变化)。Also look up the meanings of 原来。 – user6065 Aug 19 '16 at 23:31
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Strictly speaking, the adverb 没 does not negate events that happened in the past, rather it is used to express negative completed actions. When we say completed we mean that the action indicated by the predicate it's finished, it doesn't necessarily mean that is a past tense. 没 is the negative counterpart of 了 (when it is the aspectual particle).

Both 了 and 没 should only be used if the predicate in your sentence expresses a true action, in other words, if the verb does something to an object, acts directly upon it or changes it in some way. The predicate 知道 (to know) doesn't indicate an action, because the object of your knowledge doesn't undergo or suffer any change at all. In these situations should use 不 instead.

Of course, if you use 不 you should express the time through some adverb, if you want to keep the notion of past tense in your sentence. The word 原来 can be used as an adverb (originally) or as an adjective (original, initial) and it describes an original condition. If the meaning you had in mind was "At first he didn't know anything", then your translation (他原来什么都不知道) is perfectly fine. However if you wanted to say "He didn't know anything before." (which is a little bit different from the previous one), you should consider using the adverb 以前. So, the sentence

他以前什么都不知道。

is correct too. It certainly indicates a past tense and you don't put 没 because of the nature of the predicate. But, again, it depends on the interpretations.

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  • 1
    Thanks a lot. I think I understand now. So, for example, I can say "我完成了我的家庭作业" and use 了 because 完成 is an 'action verb', but I couldn't say "我喜欢了她" because 喜欢 doesn't change the object or act upon it? So instead I should say "我以前喜欢她"? – Henny Aug 21 '16 at 1:14
  • @Henny Yes, you've got the point. The verb 喜欢 doesn't require the aspectual particle 了, because it doesn't indicate a concrete action (infact "to like" is a mental process). Therefore, the sense of time is inferred by the context. 我以前喜欢她 is correct. For the first sentence (I finished my homework), I would translate this like so: "我完成作业了". You don't actually need the attributive phrase "我的家庭" because 作业 already means "homework". – Tochtli Aug 21 '16 at 13:22
  • Or, even better, you could use a result complement and say "我做完作业了" to express completeness. – Tochtli Aug 21 '16 at 13:23
  • This is a good answer, don't know why it isn't accepted (or at least upvoted) – blackgreen Feb 19 '17 at 8:53
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Chinese verb tense don't rely on a fixed auxiliary. You have to choosebased on the 'time', not the verb. 原来 is already imply time.

You cann't insert 没有 before 知道, since 知道 is a verb, 有 modify noun. To negate 知道, use 不 other than 没.

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“不”emphasis the subjective,“没有”emphasis the objective.他什么都不知道is subjective.So we say 他原来什么都不知道,not他原来什么都没有知道.

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他原来什么都不知道 意思就是什么都不知道 meaning he know nothing at the whole time 没有过去时间的概念

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First thing first. Chinese doesn't have any grammar.

Thus 他原来什么都不知道 and 他原来什么都没(有)知道 are both correct.

But in Chinese, there is something called "用词", or word choice. So to show past tense here, you can use

  • 他原来以前什么都不知道; 以前 means past.
  • 他原来现在什么都没有知道;现在 means now.
  • 他原来未来什么都不知道; 未来 means future.
  • 他原来什么都不知道; simply means that he didn't know, doesn't know and will not know.
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  • 用詞, but that is just part of the grammar. And your examples are all wrong. 沒知道, 原來以前/現在/未來 are all wrong. The only thing this answer got right is that Chinese has 用詞... and which language doesn't have that? – Leo supports Monica Cellio Feb 19 '17 at 12:49

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