On a test I had for my Mandarin 1 class, for a certain part of it, the instructions were, " Look at the answers below and write an appropriate question using the V 不 bù / bú V pattern." For one of the questions of that part, the answer was "我很喜欢看法国电影." Since the person in the answer stated that they liked watching French movies a lot, I thought the question asked whether they liked French movies a lot. I thought that if I wrote "你喜欢不喜欢看法国电影?," they probably would have just said whether or not they liked watching French movies or not instead of clarifying that they liked watching them a lot. Therefore, I wrote, "你很喜欢不很喜欢看法国电影?" Would this make sense or would "你喜欢不喜欢看法国电影?" actually fit as the question that corresponds to the answer given? I appreciate all the help I can get, and an explanation would be amazing, thank you!

3 Answers 3

  1. I understand your train of thought and it is reasonable: you wish to make the distinction between asking 'whether the person likes French movies a lot', and 'whether the person likes French movies (at all)'.

  2. Chinese allows such a distinction by asking: 你很喜歡看法國電影嗎? and 你喜(歡)不喜歡看法國電影? respectively.

  3. Rather, I would say it is the requirement of your test that bounds your options, not Chinese. That is because the form V+不+V rarely (dare I say never) permits a verb that is prefixed with an adverb of extent (e.g., ); the asker is only interested in receiving a yes-or-no answer (think of that as asking, do you V? Or do you 不+V?). Of course, it is at the answerer's discretion that they add an adverb of extent for the sake of emphasis (i.e., 'Yes, I like French movies, and I tell you additionally that I like them a lot.'). In short, you ask a question strictly in 'yes-no', but you answer it with much liberty.

  4. Moreover, the construction V+不+V is a succinct one, which makes 很喜歡不很喜歡 unideal and odd to the native ear. In fact, one is allowed to only repeat the first character of the verb, as in 喜不喜歡, 討不討厭.

  5. The principle of succinctness is further demonstrated in compound verbs. One repeats only the first verb in the compound and not the rest: e.g., with 喜歡吃 (to like eating), we say 喜不喜歡吃, not 喜歡吃不喜歡吃.

The difference between 是不是+V and V+不+V

  1. Curiosity's answer is perfectly valid in this context, but that does not suggest 你喜不喜歡看 is interchangeable with 你是不是喜歡看.

  2. 是不是+V is used primarily for confirmation, and in that there is assumption. 你是不是喜歡看法國電影? contains the asker's assumption that the other person likes French movies. In fact, 你是不是不喜歡看法國電影? assumes the opposite, e.g., when the other person is showing signs of disgust. V+不+V does not work in the negative sense, nor does it contain any assumption.

  3. We can use a verb in the past tense with 是不是, whereas V+不+V is relatively tenseless. E.g., 他是不是殺了人? means 'Did he kill someone?' Whereas 他殺不殺了人? is ungrammatical. 他殺不殺人? is grammatical and may mean 'Does he kill people?', as if the asker suspects he may be a killer, an instance where 'to kill' is habitual.


很 is not used in [Yes or No] questions

  1. 你很喜欢看法国电影嗎? (O) - ask to confirm

  2. 你喜不喜欢看法国电影? (O) - ask yes or no

  3. 你很喜欢不很喜欢看法国电影? (X) - ask yes or no

Therefore, the question has to be 1 or 2


  • [XY(V) or 不XY(V)] is always reduced to [X or 不XY(V)] --> therefore, [喜欢不喜欢] is always reduced to [喜不喜欢]

  • [愛 不愛[ = [X(v) or 不X(v)] -- there is nothing to reduce

The answer to "你喜不喜欢看法国电影?" can be simply “我喜欢” because we know the object is 看法国电影 from the question

If you want to be precise, you could repeat the object in your answer and say "我喜欢看法国电影" to make sure people know which question you are answering.

The optional 很 (very) is additional information you provide in your answer--> "我很喜欢看法国电影" --> Yes, I like French movies (not just like it, but like it very much). And it is more native to answer a question with more details than requested

  • [你喜欢不喜欢..?] is a casual inquiry on a person's attitude towards something, the answer can be either. When you've already sensed the displeasure of the person on something, you ask [你不很喜歡...嗎?], you anticipate a negative answer. If you want to ask "isn't there a chance you like..." in English, then you say/ask [你很不喜歡...嗎?]. The answer you anticipate is "no way I would like..".
    – r13
    Commented Mar 17, 2021 at 19:04

In addition to the other answers, if you wanted to ask about 很喜歡 but still want to use the v不v construction, you have another option:

  • 你是不是很喜歡看法國電影?

Although this construction is more of a confirmation than a question where you don't know at all, something like

  • Isn't it true that you really like French films?

It's a valid answer to your test that lets you convey the exact meaning you want.


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