I was studing how to say school subjects in mandarin and I saw this sentence:

我最喜欢的科目艺术,中文和化学 (My favorite school subjects are art, chinese and chemistry)

Why the use of 有 in this sentecence?

Could I say/write: 我最喜欢的科目是艺术,中文和体育

6 Answers 6


有 (have) = include

是 (is/ are) = exclusively

我最喜欢的科目有艺术,中文和化学 - doesn't exclude the possibility of there are other subjects I like

我最喜欢的科目是艺术,中文和体育 - specifically stated these three subjects are the ones I like

  • Quote:- "我最喜欢的科目有艺术,中文和化学 - doesn't exclude the possibility of there are other subjects I like" Would adding "只", making it "...只有...." exclude the possibility of there being other subjects? Nov 26, 2021 at 2:29
  • @Wayne Cheah Yes, 只有 (only/ just) does exclude other subjects
    – Tang Ho
    Nov 26, 2021 at 3:08

I have some issues with the first sentence, though it is not wrong. I would say:

我最喜欢的科目有三個 - 艺术,中文和化学 (There are three of my most favored school subjects - ... or

我最喜欢的科目包括 艺术,中文和化学 (My most favored school subjects include ....

The second sentence is perfectly correct.



With 有, it offers a category. 我最喜欢的科目 is a category and in this category there are 艺术,中文和化学. So the sentence can be paraphrased as 我最喜欢的科目当中有艺术,中文和化学.

With 是, it offers an equation like A = B. 我最喜欢的科目 = 艺术,中文和化学.

So both are correct.


Both are ok.

Why the use of 有 in this sentecence? Because here the "科目" in "我最喜欢的科目" is kinda list, so we can say "我最喜欢的科目有艺术,中文和化学", there are Art, Chinese etc in the list. "有" is the same meaning of "there are"


Both should be fine, it might be easier to think about those ones as some sort of a colon symbol(its basically what it does in this context).

a colon symbol referencing this site https://grammar.yourdictionary.com/punctuation/grammar-colon-usage.html

"Use a colon to introduce an item or list, if the list comes after a complete sentence or independent clause..."


You should know that the Chinese word 有 sometimes correspond to there be in English, so the case you mentioned could also be interpreted as a there be sentence. Take an example:

There is a tree in the yard.

There are art, chinese, and chemistry, in (the list of) my favorite subjects.

While the Chinese word 是 sometimes correspond to be in English.

My favorite subjects are art, chinese, and chemistry.

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