I found this example:


Nǐ ná zheyòng ba, shénme shíhòu huán dōu kěyǐ.

You can have it as long as you want.

I am confused about the grammar structure behind 什么时候还都可以 (literally: any time you return it is ok). How is it possible 都 occurs after the verb 还 (to return)? Until now, I always saw 都 before any verb.

  • 1
    Make a pause here: (什么时候还) 都可以, just like(今天还 或者 明天还) 都可以, take the first part as one subject.
    – Shaw
    Sep 1, 2020 at 22:47

2 Answers 2


In the sentence 什么时候还都可以

  • the subject is 什么时候还 (the topic in topic-comment theory)
  • the predicate is 都可以

可以 is 中心词 (key word or main verb), 都 is an adverb that modifies 可以.

  • Does 都 modify 可以? I thought instead modifies the time 什么时候 to mean any time. See also Can an 'adverb' modify 'nouns/pronouns'?, even though that discussion is about English language, I think in Mandarin Chinese it has the same grammatical function.
    – Puco4
    Sep 2, 2020 at 9:01
  • @Puco4 The adverb 都 modifies the verb 可以. E. g. 我都可以. You'd think 都 modifies 我? Your quotation is not the same as your example in my opinion.
    – dan
    Sep 2, 2020 at 10:25
  • 1
    What does it mean 我都可以? Maybe here 都 means something else and complements the verb. However, usually I have seen 都 means all. So for example 我们都可以 means we all can. And in this case, I believe 都 modifies 我们 to mean we all. Also, from C. Li, S. Thompson. Mandarin Chinese, A functional reference grammar: "都 can refer only to a preceding noun phrase, and this noun phrase is generally the topic or the subject." I believe this is the same grammar function as in English when we say almost everyone, almost is an adverb that complements everyone (from the previous link).
    – Puco4
    Sep 2, 2020 at 10:35
  • 1
    But then, I believe 都 makes reference (and complements) another omitted noun (the possible ways), and not the verb.
    – Puco4
    Sep 2, 2020 at 11:30
  • 2
    @Puco4 都 is an adverb and syntactically goes with the verb. How you render any sentence in English is not relevant to understanding the structure of the source language. Easy test: does 我都 work alone? No. Does 都可以 work alone? Yes.
    – blackgreen
    Sep 3, 2020 at 9:35

Don't really like (你)还

Maybe this helps a little:

You can return my car anytime. I don't need it today.

You can return my car any time. I don't need it today.

你什么时候回来 (回家、回宾馆), 都可以。
You can come back (come home, come back to the hotel) anytime.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.