Let's take into consideration these examples:

Ta1 men dou1 bu4 xi3 huan1 wo3. They all dislike me.

Zhong1 guo2 de cheng2 shi4 dou1 hen3 da4. All the Chinese cities are big.

To my European brain "dou1" is a part of a subject. I see/ hear/ think:

Ta1 men dou1 --- bu4 xi3 huan1 --- wo3.

Zhong1 guo2 de --- cheng2 shi4 dou1 --- hen3 da4.

But when Chinese native speakers speak slowly, they never part sentences like this! For them "dou1" is a part of a verb... Which to me is extremely strange. They would say:

Ta1 men --- dou1 bu4 xi3 huan1 --- wo3.

Zhong1 guo2 [probably also "de" goes to "cheng2 shi4" here!] --- de cheng2 shi4 --- dou1 hen3 da4.

Is there an explainable reason of that? I can guess it has to do with another or archaic meaning/ use of "dou1".

2 Answers 2


Yes this is correct.

dōu is most commonly encountered as an adverb, and fits into the pre-verbal position shared by adverbs of manner (e.g. 慢慢 mànmàn). It has a stronger link in prosody to the verb than to the noun/pronoun before it, just as your Mandarin speaking friends have demonstrated.

It does also emphasise the subject, but its semantic value is different, close to English "even" than to "all", and it is still in pre-verbal position rather than than some kind of post-noun position (I don't think that really exists to be honest).

Chinese does have ways of putting "all" in the noun phrase: the use of 所有 suǒyǒu, and also the use of 全 quán to mean "whole, entire" which can be translated "all" in certain contexts. Note though that 都 is still present pre-verbally in such constructions.


I totally agree with Michaelyus's answer. I would like to add that, in examples like in your questions, if you remove 都, the meaning is still the same. The noun itself has included implicit "all" in it, so you don't need 都 for the noun. And, 都 is never used with noun. Maybe thinking like this, you know it's different from Eurepean way.

中国的城市都很大 = 中国的城市很大

他们都不喜欢我 = 他们不喜欢我

Some other examples:

中国人都很好 = 中国人很好

花园里的花儿都很美 = 花园里的花儿很美

天上的云都很白 = 天上的云很白

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