I'm confused about a translation question. If I wanted to translate "we won't be able to see you" (the actual sentence isn't important, just future tense and then some action with 会), would I say 我们会不会看你?That sounds like a question, "can we see you?". I've been taught to translate future tense to 会, is there another way to say an action is in the future? I've heard that "要" also works, but doesn't that mean "want"?

  • translate.google.ca/#en/zh-CN/…
    – Tang Ho
    Commented Jul 4, 2017 at 21:17
  • 1
    You can say 我们会看不到你. 我们不会看你 means "we won't see you", and 我们会不会看你 means "would we see you", both sound wrong for your intent.
    – user4072
    Commented Jul 5, 2017 at 2:32

3 Answers 3


As far as what you mean by see, the above answer is right in that context. Do you mean meet at a certain time and place? Do you mean at the moment? Chinese requires a lot of specific information to be understood thoroughly..as you can probably ascertain, English is a relatively lazy language these days, as a matter of convention and every day speech.

As far as able, it is imho, most likely to be implying 能 or 可以 .

可以 means does one have permission. (i.e. Can I see you? [Am I allowed to]) 能 means physically capable or able. (i.e. Can I see you? [Or is something preventing me..time, physical restraints, etc.)

We won't be able to see you:

我们不能看见你。 Means physically unable..which is not a quality or happening that is very likely. This would more be used in another light, for example: 我们不能看见彩虹。  This would imply that, perhaps, from your side of town you are unable to see the rainbow that someone on the other side of town could see. Otherwise, it doesn't really make sense..because if every one cannot see that rainbow, then it does not really exist, does it?

我们不可以看见你..This is another poor choice of word (see), that is where the issue lies. This implies that we are not allowed to see you physically..which makes for a weird scenario. It also is somewhat open ended..it could mean a number of things.

You have to clarify what is meant by see, which is probably meet, and from there you can establish meet for what purpose.


We won't be able to see you

If we assume this means, at a particular time in the future, we will not have sufficient time to meet 'you', it could probably best be translated as follows:


It is not helpful to think about future tense or anything like that derived from English. You just have to pick the right time phrase, e.g 到時候.

Aside from 到時候 or 'at that aforementioned time [in the future]', you could use the month or a date or something similar as well:


'We won't have time to see you in May'

You can even say it with the same verb you would use for a present tense situation, as in 'I don't have time to see you' and 'I won't have time to see you in May':

我沒有時間見你 / 我五月沒有時間見你

In any case I would not focus on trying to figure out an underlying grammatical framework but recommend you find good example sentences and use them regularly until it seems natural.


"We won't be able to see you." is somewhat unclear without context. Why can't we see you? You are invisible? ("Doctor, the Invisible Man wants an appointment for this afternoon." "Tell him I won't be able to see him.":)) We are blind? We don't want to see you? The rules don't allow us to meet? We don't have the time? Most likely, 'We don't have enough time to meet you', which we will probably also say when we don't want to see you.

'Sorry, but we won't have enough time to meet you when we are in Beijing.'


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