The phrase 供不应求 = "supply does not meet demand"; its antonyms are 供过于求 = 供大于求 = "supply exceeds demand". I'm wondering why its antonym isn't 求不应供, formed by swapping 供 and 求 in 供不应求, with the intention of meaning "demand does not match supply". (I once attempted to use this phrase, and everyone looked puzzled.)

I'm not really sure if "demand does not meet supply" makes logical sense in English, and I'm not sure if judging correctness of Chinese through the lens of English is the best idea. However, it's possible that 求不应供 is illogical in Chinese, and "demand does not meet supply" is illogical in English, and for the same reason (the verb is not omnidirectional).

Question: Why is the antonym of 供不应求 not 求不应供?

1 Answer 1


in 供不应求 (supply doesn't satisfy demand) means 'satisfy'

求不应供 would mean 'demand doesn't satisfy supply"

In what world do the customers have to satisfy the suppliers/ manufacturers?

  • Demand needs to be satisfied, if not, people are going to complain

  • Supply is never guaranteed to be satisfied, you make as much as you want but don't expect all you make will be sold

Side note:

有求必應 (all requests will be satisfied)'s antonym cannot be 有應必求 (Will make requests for all responses), doesn't even make sense

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