While reading a news article from Hong Kong, I noticed the sentence:

XXX 未有回覆传媒查询。

(I replaced specific details that aren't relevant to my question with "XXX".) This I take to mean that:

XXX did not respond to media inquiries.

However, why is 未有 used here, instead of, for instance, 沒有? The dictionaries I have consulted say that 未有 is to be understood as "never having existed", so is using the term here instead of 沒有 simply indicating something stronger, or does it also have some other function (e.g. being more formal)?

  • 3
    Generally speaking, we tend to use "没有" or "尚未" instead of "未有".
    – xqMogvKW
    Commented Mar 10, 2014 at 8:34
  • @CA55CE37: Probably would explain why I wasn't that familiar with it....
    – user3410
    Commented Mar 10, 2014 at 8:36

5 Answers 5

  1. 未有 could mean "not / not yet / haven't / haven't yet", while 沒有 means "not / haven't". So, the two words have subtle differences and they are not always interchangable. In your example, the reporter probably means that while XXX has not responded, XXX also hasn't refused to respond and hence there is a slight chance that XXX will respond in future. Therefore, for sake of accuracy (rather than formalness) one should use 未有 instead of 沒有 in this case.
  2. Whether the two words are replacable depends on context:
    • When some other words in the sentence have already implied a sense of temporariness, such as 我們暫時未有機位 ("We haven't any flight seats available for the time being"; here 暫時="for the time being"), it's OK to use 未有 or 沒有.
    • Sometimes, 未有 simply means "not/haven't". In this case, you can replace it by 沒有. E.g. in chapter 68 of the novel 鏡花緣 (1819), there is a sentence 若稍不留神,未有不遭其害. Here one can replace 未有 by 沒有.
    • While both 未有 and 沒有 can be used in many cases (as in the previous example), since the character 未 literally means "not yet", 沒有 is not always replacable by 未有. E.g. in the conservation 你有帶手機嗎?我沒有 ("Have you brought a cellphone? No, I haven't"), the asker is essentially asking whether one has a cellphone now. It doesn't make sense to answer "No, I haven't yet" and so one cannot replace 沒有 by 未有.
    • Novice learners of Chinese may have difficulties to figure out when 沒有 and 未有 are interchangable. To avoid making mistakes, one may simply use 未有 only when one means "not yet", and use 沒有 for negatives when there is no implication of temporariness.
  3. 未有 is classical Chinese; as in the cases of many other classical Chinese phrases, its uses are preserved in modern Cantonese (in both oral conversations and formal writings) but not in Mandarin.
  • Thanks! After thinking about it, this makes significantly more sense if I think about the sentence in Cantonese (which I have some knowledge of) rather than Mandarin.
    – user3410
    Commented Mar 10, 2014 at 10:19
  • In Classical Chinese you will often see 未 used on its own to express 没有 or 还没有.
    – MHG
    Commented Mar 14, 2014 at 2:17
  • @Hugh Yes. Since the OP is about 未有, the discussion here is focused on 未有 rather than 未.
    – user4086
    Commented Mar 14, 2014 at 6:17

未有 is often used in Cantonese,while 没有 is often used in Madarin.

  • Hmmm I had a feeling that might be the case, and that does make sense given the Cantonese context of the article in question.
    – user3410
    Commented Mar 10, 2014 at 9:10

未 means "not yet" in this case. so 未有 kinda means "have not got it yet"

it probably indicates it might have a respond in the future.


I think it's used there mainly for formality.

未有 means exactly the same as 没有, not “have not exist yet”. In Classical Chinese, many negative adverbs, such as 不,未,弗,无,etc. could be used before 有, which is quite annoying.

未有 is old-fashioned, somewhat obsoleted. But 未 itself is frequently used in both Classical Chinese and modern formal writing.

I suppose 未回覆传媒查询 would be more common in formal witting and speech.

@RaymondYue might be right. Cantonese often chooses different words than what we often use in Mandarin.


As all the users mentioned, "未有" is more classical and formal, while "没有" is more common in everyday use.

Examples of 没有:

-你吃晚饭了没有?(Have you enjoyed your supper yet?)
-还没有呢.(Not yet)
-你作业写好了没有?(Have you finished your homework yet?)
-没有写好,还在努力(Not yet, still working on it)

Examples of 未有

吾尚未有子(I have't got a son yet)
未有以应。(No responds yet)

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