I was going to the convenience store and asked my local friend how to ask in Chinese "Do you want anything?"

Her answer was: 你有想要买什么吗

I wasn't sure what to make of the 有 before the verb 想要 meaning "to want" and as a native speaker she could not explain it though she did understand my questions about its grammatical function.

Is it a kind of auxiliary verb in this sentence? Or is it a case of the special Taiwanese 有 that can be used for some references to the past but which also has other uses? Or is it something entirely different?


你有想要买什么吗. It sounds more like Taiwanese usage of 有 to my ear. I found they often put 有 between subject and verb. E.g. 我有去过;我有看过;where I often just say 我去过;我看过. In this case, I'll probably say 你想要买什么? or 你想要买什么(东西)吗?.


Are you sure she didn't say "你有什么想要买吗?" which would be a correct way to say "do you want to buy anything?"

"你有什么想要买吗?" means "Is there anything you want to buy"

你(you) 有什么(is there something) 想要(want to) 买(buy) 吗?


"你有想要买什么吗?" means " Have you intended to buy something?"

你(you) 有想要 (have intended to) 买(buy) 什么(something) 吗?

[有+verb] indicate [perfect tense ]


想 = intend to

有想 = have intended to

有想過 = had intended to

去 = go

有去 = have gone

有去過 = had gone

看 = see

有看 = have seen

有看過 = had seen

  • 1
    I actually went back to her and asked and wrote it down to make sure I got it right to put in this question! – hippietrail Feb 2 at 15:03

Chinese is often best understood by what it leaves out.

Maybe it is:

你(有没)有想要买什么?= 你有没有什么想要买的东西?

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