I have been facing a lot of examples of "why didn't/haven't VERB" in English translated as 怎么不 VERB. Why don't they use 没 VERB?



  • please see chinese.stackexchange.com/questions/247/… and decide if your question had already been answered
    – Tang Ho
    Sep 13, 2016 at 14:10
  • @TangHo It has absolutely nothing to do with my question. Thanks. Sep 13, 2016 at 14:38
  • There's a "difference between 不 and 没" question here chinese.stackexchange.com/questions/6586/… The answer stated the basic difference between 不 and 没 on their own. However, 没+V is commonly being used in place of 不+V, especially in past tense as songyuanyao stated
    – Tang Ho
    Sep 13, 2016 at 16:02

4 Answers 4


According to the book "Modern Chinese Grammar" (http://m.sanmin.com.tw/product/index/000225652), we can roughly distinguish:

  1. 不: this word is a negation that comes with the speaker's subjective feeling, which means that the speaker might think the other should have done something (for example in the first sentence, you should have already got up)

  2. 没: this word, however, is a negation which is more or less objective. That is to say, the fact that the other person did not wake up is noted.

To sum up, in both sentences, the contexts show very strong meanings that both speakers did not agree with what the others have not done, and therefore the negation word "不" was used.

As a native speaker, I feel that using the negation word "不" is usually more powerful and that implies the relation with the other is more close. Hope this answer can give you some clues.


You're right, it's quite fine to use here.

Note that +V is usually used for the past tense.

你怎么还没起床? => Why haven't you got up? (The intent is, you should have got up early.)

+V could be used for past tense, present tense or future tense, according to the relevant context.

你怎么还不起床? => Why don't you get up?
你怎么不去学校? => Why don't/won't you go to school?
  • Yes, I know. My question is why 不 is used instead of 没, since it's "why didn't you get up" and not "why don't you get up". Sep 13, 2016 at 14:41
  • @EnricoBrasil For past tense, using and are both fine. IMO I prefer to use here since it's more clear and explicit for past tense.
    – user4072
    Sep 13, 2016 at 14:44

In your examples I honestly can't see any essential distinction, they are interchangeable here.

Speaking about the tense, 没 may intend to express a very weak comparison between the past and the present(before you didn't, now you still haven't), so I will naturally translate it using a prefect tense, but basically either past tense or perfect tense is ok for them both.


没 is not a verb because there is no action in 没,nothing.

不 is not a verb neither because there is no action in 不,not.

The verb are 起 and 选:

已经九点了,你怎么还不床? (起 is the verb here, it means "get up")

你怎么不一个更好的作文题?(选 is the verb here, it means "choose")

  • I'm no questioning whether 没 or 不 are verbs or not. Oct 10, 2016 at 14:14

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