All(Both) or None: 都 dōu Grammar

This “都” character might seem confusing because it can mean “both” or “all” in English.

Here is when and how to use this character,

  • 都 is used when there are any number of subjects greater than one.
  • 都 is placed between subject and verb.
  • 不/没 is placed after 都 for negative sentences.     

Its basic sentence structure is


  • Subject + 都 + Verb phrase


And for negative sentence structure is


  • Subject + 都 + 不/沒 + Verb phrase


Here are some guidelines for when you would like to provide more details:

Adding “time when” right before or right after the subject,

  • Subject + time when + 都 + (不/没) + Verb phrase

Adding “location” after “都”,

  • Subject + time when + 都 + (不/没) + location + Verb phrase

A few practice questions are included at the end of the infographic.

This grammar is not difficult to teach. However, when I taught this grammar in the past, I noticed that since this character cannot be translated directly in English, English native speakers tend to forget to use it or misplace it. That is why plenty of practice is necessary, both written and oral. Students need to get used to putting this character in the correct place in a sentence.


Use the “can-do” list to check if you learned this grammar.

Can-do checklist:

⃞        I can understand when to use 都 dōu.

⃞        I can use 都 dōu correctly in a conversation.

⃞        I can place 都 dōu correctly in a positive sentence.

⃞        I can place 都 dōu correctly in a negative sentence.


Simplified Chinese Version



Traditional Chinese Version

1 comment

  1. zafeera

    Marvelous explanation. Excellent examples and practice questions. presentation quiet inviting and engaging. well done job.

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