Let Alone… Essential Chinese Vocabulary

Here’s an extremely useful, yet extremely easy saying to understand. This is perfect for when you want to emphasise that something is impossible by comparing it to something that is easier, yet equally impossible. It is exactly the same as the English saying ‘let alone…’.


Pinyin: gèng bié shuō
English: Let alone; much less; don’t even mention; forget about…

I can't move, let alone play ball!

Just like the English ‘let alone…’ this construct works by first stating a lesser, relatively easy example, and then stating the greater, more difficult, example. Take this easy example for starters:

He can’t even ride a bicycle, let alone a motorbike.

In this example someone may have asked “can Bill ride a motorbike?”. In order to emphasise that there is no chance Bill can ride a motorcycle we compare this example to something else that Bill can’t do, but that is comparatively easier, yet still related. Okay, enough English, you wanted to learn the Chinese, right? Well it works exactly the same, here’s the Chinese version of the above sentence:

tā lián jiǎotàchē dōu bú huì qí, gèngbiéshuō jīchē.

Easy enough. So let’s have a look at a more complicated example, care of BBC News:

hěn nán yùjiàn rènhé jǐge guójiā nénggòu jiējìn, gèngbiéshuō chāoguò zhèyàng shuǐpíng de jūnfèikāizhī, lái kànghéng měiguó de jūnshì shílì le.
It’s difficult to foresee which countries could come close to, let alone surpass, the level of military expenditure required to contend with the United State’s military strength.

Got a better example? Post it below in the comments. Or let us know about other useful Chinese sayings and vocabulary!

4 responses to “Let Alone… Essential Chinese Vocabulary

  1. Some synonyms:


    Generally, we use 更別說、更不用說 in either affirmative sentences or negative sentences.

    還用說、還需要說 in question sentences.

    何況是 can be used in all of the sentences above.

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