From briefly looking it up in a dictionary, it seems to me that 至少 is a direct equivalent of "at least" in English, and as far as I can tell its placement in a sentence follows the same set of rules. For instance:

At least I know how to cook.

I see at least 5 people.

But 至少 (and "at least" in English) doesn't seem to adhere to any rules pertaining to where in the sentence it's allowed to be? So what part of speech would you refer to this as? An adjective? A preposition?


In the book 汉语国际教育用词语声调组合及轻重音格式实用手册, p.241 (which is rumored to be the post-reform HSK replacement), 至少 is classified as a 副词 (adverb). Furthermore, it's considered a 程度副词 (adverb of degree) in the book 现代华语概论.

In English, we might describe it as an adverbial since it can affect a whole phrase.

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  1. use it before a number/amount to indicate 'not less than' this number/amount


至少5个人 - at least five people (no less than five)

至少两天 - at least two days (no less than two)


  1. use it before a statement to indicate 'taking the most pessimistic or unfavorable view, the statement is still true'


我不会做任何家務,至少我会做饭。- (although) I don't know how to do any housework, (but) at least I know how to cook

可以任意殺人, 但至少不可以殺女人小孩 - (although) you can kill people at will, (but) at least you can't kill women and children

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