A Little Bit of 一点儿 yìdiǎnr 一下 yíxià 一会儿 yíhuìr 有点儿 yǒudiǎnr

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In Mandarin, “一点儿 yìdiǎnr”、“一下 yíxià”、“一会儿 yíhuìr”、“有点儿 yǒudiǎnr” all mean a little. Do you know how to use them the right way? Learn how to differentiate them in this article, and then test yourself via this quiz in the next post!

 
 

一点儿 yìdiǎnr, 一下 yíxià, 一会儿 yíhuìr

First, let’s take a look at the first three, 一点儿 yìdiǎnr, 一下 yíxià, 一会儿 yíhuìr. To get straight to the point, 一点儿 yìdiǎnr is about quantity, 一下 yíxià about actions, 一会儿 yíhuìr about time. Super duper easy! Here’s some examples:

Bear in mind that the way Chinese works is very different from English. Word for word translation is often impossible, so when things don’t seem to make sense, try to zoom out of your normal zone and take a wider view.

一点儿 yìdiǎnr
a little amount, a small quantity

一点儿 yìdiǎnr Usage 1

Comes in between a verb and a noun. 一 yì can be omitted.
1. 我在他那儿吃了一点儿
Wǒ zài tā nàr chī le yìdiǎnr fàn.
我在他那儿吃了一点儿饭。
I ate some rice at his place.

2. 我还有一点儿钱
Wǒ hái yǒu yìdiǎnr qián.
我还有一点儿钱。
I still have some money.

3. 他会一点儿汉语
Tā huì yìdiǎnr Hànyǔ.
他会一点儿汉语。
He can speak a little Mandarin.

4. 咖啡要糖吗要一点儿
Kāfēi yào táng ma? Yào yìdiǎnr.
咖啡要糖吗?要一点儿。
Do you want sugar in your coffee? A little please.

You can look at 一点儿 yìdiǎnr the same way as other measure words. Let’s replace 一点儿 yìdiǎnr in the above sentences with measure words.

1a. 我在他那儿吃了一碗饭
Wǒ zài tā nàr chī le yì wǎn fàn.
我在他那儿吃了一碗饭。
I ate a bowl of rice at his place.

2a. 我还有十块钱
Wǒ hái yǒu shí kuài qián
我还有十块钱。
I still have ten dollars.

3a. 他会几句汉语
Tā huì jǐ jù Hànyǔ.
他会几句汉语。
He can speak a few sentences in Mandarin.

4a. 咖啡要唐吗要一茶匙
Kāfēi yào táng ma? Yào yì cháchí
咖啡要糖吗?要一茶匙。
Do you want sugar in your coffee? A teaspoon please.

一点儿 yìdiǎnr Usage 2

一点儿is also used after adjectives to indicate comparison. 一 yì in this case is often omitted.

5. 便宜点儿吧
Piányi (yì) diǎnr ba.
便宜(一)点儿吧。
Please make it cheaper.

6. 走快点儿
Zǒu kuài (yì) diǎnr.
走快(一)点儿。
Walk faster.

7. 明天早点儿来
Míngtiān zǎo (yì) diǎnr lái.
明天早(一)点儿来。
Come earlier tomorrow.

8. 今天好点儿了
Jīntiān hǎo (yì) diǎnr le.
今天好(一)点儿了。
I’m better today.

 
 

一下 yíxià
Indicates that an action is done briefly or casually, or an attempt to do something. Additionally, it also softens the tone.

1. 你们休息一下吧
Nǐmen xiūxi yíxià ba.
你们休息一下吧。
Take a rest.

2. 我只看了一下
Wǒ zhǐ kàn le yíxià.
我只看了一下。
I only read/ saw/ watched a bit.

3. 我尝一下
Wǒ cháng yíxià.
我尝一下。
Let me taste it.

4. 你来一下
Nǐ lái yíxià.
你来一下。
Come here.
(Note: Here, 你来 nǐ lái would suffice to mean ‘come here’, but with 一下 yíxià, the tone is softer and so it sounds less like a command.)

 
 

一会儿 yíhuìr
Indicates a little in terms of time, that is, a short while, a moment.

1. 请等一会儿
Qǐng děng yíhuìr.
请等一会儿。
Please wait a moment.

2. 饭一会儿就好
Fàn yíhuìr jiù hǎo.
饭一会儿就好。
The meal will be ready soon.

3. 你再坐一会儿吧
Nǐ zài zuò yíhuìr ba.
你再坐一会儿吧。
Stay a little longer. (said to guests)

4. 刚才看了一会儿书
Gāngcái kàn le yíhuìr shū.
刚才看了一会儿书。
I read for a while just now.

I hope you’re a bit clearer now regarding 一点儿 yìdiǎnr, 一下 yíxià and 一会儿 yíhuìr. There are cases where we could use two, or even all three. Usually there is only a slight difference in meaning. For example,

请等一下
Qǐng děng yíxià.
“请等一下”
Please wait a bit.

请等一会儿
Qǐng děng yíhuìr.
“请等一会儿”
Please wait a while.

are almost the same, except that in the first sentence, ‘a little bit’ is associated with the action of waiting, whereas in the second, with time.

mini QUIZ
Let’s pause a bit before moving on. I have posed the following 4 questions in the video. See if you can answer them!

Choose the best Chinese sentence(s) for the following English sentences. (There may be more than one appropriate answer.)

1. Let me have a think.
a.
Ràng wǒ xiǎng yìdiǎnr.
让我想一点儿。
b.
Ràng wǒ xiǎng yíxià.
让我想一下。
c.
Ràng wǒ xiǎng yíhuìr.
让我想一会儿。

answer

2. Let’s take a rest.
a.
Xiūxi yìdiǎnr ba.
休息一点儿吧。
b.
Xiūxi yíxià ba.
休息一下吧。
c.
Xiūxi yíhuìr ba.
休息一会儿吧。

answer

3. I took some medicine.
a.
Wǒ chī le yìdiǎnr yào.
我吃了一点儿药。
b.
Wǒ chī le yíxià yào.
我吃了一下药。
c.
Wǒ chī le yíhuìr yào.
我吃了一会儿药。

answer

4. The table is dirty. Let me give it a quick wipe.
a.
Zhuōzi zāng le, wǒ cā yìdiǎnr ba.
桌子脏了,我擦一点儿吧。
b.
Zhuōzi zāng le, wǒ cā yíxià ba.
桌子脏了,我擦一下吧。
c.
Zhuōzi zāng le, wǒ cā yíhuìr ba.
桌子脏了,我擦一会儿吧。

answer

 
 

一点儿 yìdiǎnr, 有点儿 yǒudiǎnr

Let’s now move on to 有点儿 yǒudiǎnr and its difference from 一点儿 yìdiǎnr.

有点儿 yǒudiǎnr
Another expression that means a little. Here’s how to differentiate it from 一点儿 yìdiǎnr.

Recall that 一点儿 yìdiǎnr can be placed after adjectives. For eg,

Zǒu kuài (yì) diǎnr.
走快(一)点儿。
Walk faster.

有点儿 yǒudiǎnr Attribute 1

有点儿 yǒudiǎnr on the other hand, is placed BEFORE adjectives. Also, it is often used when expressing things with a negative connotation. Often, but not always. Or, when talking about things that are slightly different from the norm, or from what you expect.

1. 你的手机有点儿贵
Nǐ de shǒujī yǒudiǎnr guì.
你的手机有点儿贵。
Your mobile phone is a bit expensive.

2. 今天的汤有点儿咸
Jīntiān de tāng yǒudiǎnr xián.
今天的汤有点儿咸。
The soup today is a bit salty.

3. 这衣服有点儿小
Zhè yīfu yǒudiǎnr xiǎo.
这衣服有点儿小。
This dress is a bit small.

4. 我有点儿发烧
Wǒ yǒudiǎnr fāshāo.
我有点儿发烧。
I’m having a slight fever.

5. 他看起来有点儿不高兴
Tā kànqilai yǒudiǎnr bù gāoxìng.
他看起来有点儿不高兴。
He looks a bit upset.

6. 不用很黑
Búyòng hěn hēi, yǒudiǎnr hēi jiù xíng le.
不用很黑,有点儿黑就行了。
It doesn’t have to be very black, just slightly black is good enough.

7. 这种点心
Zhè zhǒng diǎnxīn yǒudiǎnr tián yòu yǒudiǎnr là, wèidao hěn tèbié.
这种点心有点儿甜又有点儿辣,味道很特别。
This type of dessert is a bit sweet yet a bit spicy, the taste is quite special.

Compare and Contrast!

Let’s insert the following 一点儿 yìdiǎnr sentences at the end of the yǒudiǎnr sentences 1-3 above.

1a. 你的手机便宜点儿吧
Nǐ de shǒujī yǒudiǎnr guì. Piányi (yì) diǎnr ba.
你的手机有点儿贵。便宜(一)点儿吧。
Your mobile phone is a little expensive. Make it cheaper.

2a. 今天的汤加点儿水吧
Jīntiān de tāng yǒudiǎnr xián. Jiā (yì) diǎnr shuǐ ba.
今天的汤有点儿咸。加(一)点儿水吧。
The soup today is a bit salty. Let’s add some water.

3a. 这衣服大点儿正好
Zhè yīfu yǒudiǎnr xiǎo. Dà (yì) diǎnr jiù zhèng hǎo.
这衣服有点儿小。大(一)点儿就正好。
This dress is a bit small. It would be just nice if it was slightly bigger.

Now are the differences clear?

有点儿 yǒudiǎnr Attribute 2

有点儿 yǒudiǎnr often describes states of mind and appearances that are beyond our control.

8. 今天有点儿紧张
Jīntiān yǒudiǎnr jǐnzhāng.
今天有点儿紧张。
I’m a bit nervous today.

9. 看到偶像有点儿兴奋
Kàndao ǒuxiàng yǒudiǎnr xīngfèn.
看到偶像有点儿兴奋。
I’m a bit excited at seeing (having seen) my idol.

10. 我有点儿困
Wǒ yǒudiǎnr kùn, lái bēi kāfēi ba.
我有点儿困,来杯咖啡吧。
I’m a bit sleepy. Give me a coffee.

11. 我有点儿喜欢他
Wǒ hǎoxiàng yǒudiǎnr xǐhuan tā.
我好像有点儿喜欢他。
I think I might have taken a liking to him.

12. 我有点儿想家
Wǒ yǒudiǎnr xiǎng jiā ne.
我有点儿想家呢。
I’m a little homesick.

13. 我男朋友
Nǐ wèn wǒ nánpéngyou shénme múyàng? Tā ya, zhǎng de yǒudiǎnr hēi, yǒudiǎnr háiziqì, hái yǒudiǎnr xiàng Liú Déhuá.
你问我男朋友什么模样?他呀,长得有点儿黑,有点儿孩子气,还有点儿像刘德华。
What’s my boyfriend like? Well, he is a little dark, quite child-like, and looks a bit like Andy Lau.

14. 他长得像日本人 中国美国韩国西班牙人
Tā zhǎng de yǒudiǎnr xiàng Rìběn rén/ Zhōngguó rén/ Hánguó rén/ Měiguó rén/ Xībānyá rén.
他长得有点儿像日本人/中国人/韩国人/美国人/西班牙人。
He looks a bit like Japanese/ Chinese/ Korean/ American/ Spanish.

 BEWARE! 

Here’s something I need to caution you about. Sometimes, 一点儿 yìdiǎnr appears in disguise as 有点儿 yǒudiǎnr. So be careful. In such cases, you might be tricked into thinking that you’re looking at 有点儿 yǒudiǎnr, but you’re not!

When 有点儿 yǒudiǎnr appears before nouns, it is actually the construction

yǒu + (yì)diǎnr
有 + (一)点儿
with the 一 yì being omitted.

1. /我还有点儿钱
Wǒ hái yǒudiǎnr qián. (Wǒ hái yǒu yìdiǎnr qián.)
我还有点儿钱。(我还有一点儿钱。)
I still have some money.

2. /锅里有点儿饭
Guō li yǒudiǎnr fàn. (Guō li yǒu yìdiǎnr fàn.)
锅里有点儿饭。(锅里有一点儿饭。)
There’s some rice in the pot.

So there you are, the bits and pieces of the ‘little bits’ in Mandarin! The mini quiz in this post was a bit too easy, wasn’t it? That was just a starter. Challenge yourself to this quiz in the next post!

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