I'm trying to translate "I'm not a bad person" to standard Chinese. I am told the following:

There are also two ways to say "A isn't B". When B is a noun (things, people, places, etc.), use bú shì.

It seemed to me that B here is "bad", which is an adjective. So I said that the translation would be "wô bú huài-rén". The only other option would have been to add "shì".

But I was told that this is incorrect. It seems to me that I followed the information correctly, no? Did I do something incorrectly, or are the instructions incorrect?

Thank you.

  • 1
    The information is correct, 我是人 > 我不是人 > 我不是坏人. 我坏 > 我不坏. When you analyze sentences, you need to strip out all the modifiers, e.g. 我保证我以前真的不是一个特别好的人. -> 我是人 when you remove all the modifiers.
    – sfy
    Feb 18, 2020 at 16:27

1 Answer 1


B is person, which is a noun. So you should use 不是. Bad is an adjective and it's used to modify person, so the translation should be

  • If A is "I'm" and B is "person", then, using their reasoning, we would have "I'm not person", so I think their explanation is incorrect, no? Feb 18, 2020 at 16:08
  • @ThePointer A is "I" and B is "person", then "I'm not person" should be translated as 我不是人. Where is the explanation incorrect?
    – user4072
    Feb 18, 2020 at 16:10
  • I meant their explanation is incorrect. The point is to say that "I'm not bad", but if B is "person", then "A isn't B" becomes "I'm isn't/not person", right? Feb 18, 2020 at 16:15
  • @ThePointer Yes. I think the theory is just talking about grammar struction, meaning is not considered. The point is there's "person" at the end of the sentence and it's a noun. If the sentence is just "I'm not bad", and "bad" is an adjective, then the translation would be 我不坏.
    – user4072
    Feb 18, 2020 at 16:20

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