Nǚ: Měicì dōu shì kàn diànyǐng, wèishénme búqù gōngyuán ne?
Girl: Every time we go watch a movie, why not go to the park?
When the girl asks “为什么不去公园呢 (wèi shénme bú qù gōngyuán ne)” you can tell she is suggesting that they go to the park instead of the movies. In Chinese, this sentence is a double negative. The first negative is the “
,” and the second negative is the “不 (bù) not.” In Chinese, any time there are two negatives they cancel out to become a positive. So, she is actually suggesting they go to the park instead.
Chinese has two forms of negative sentences: one is negative terms such as “no;” the other is the tone of one’s voice when asking a rhetorical question. These sentences are represented with two types of negative forms: one is whenever two negative words are placed around a positive, for example 不得不 (bùdébù); the other is as in the example above, when a negative term is placed with a rhetorical question in the same sentence. Both of these types express an affirmative meaning.
Wǒ bùdébù huíjiā.
I must go home.
This is the same as——我必须回家。(Wǒ bìxū huíjiā.) I must go home.
Nándào tā bù zhīdào ma?
Don’t tell me he doesn’t know?
This is the same as——他应该知道。(Tā yīnggāi zhīdào.) He should know.
Nǐ búhuì bù míngbái ba.
You can’t not understand.
This is the same as——你一定明白。(Nǐ yídìng míngbái.) You definitely understand.