For most Chinese learners, the first meaning they learned for 有 yǒu, is probably its basic meaning: ‘to possess, to have’.
The object after 有 can be a concrete noun, such as ‘house’, ‘car’, ‘brother’, etc.; it also can be an abstract noun such as opportunity, confidence, hope etc.
I have one younger brother.
I will have spare time this afternoon.
She has confidence to pass the exam.
Besides possession, 有 yǒu has many other meanings.
有 yǒu expresses existence – the equivalent to ‘there is’ or ‘there are’ sentences in English. The basic sentence structure is:
[somewhere] 有 [somebody or something]
There is a book on the table.
There are five students in the classroom.
There is a theater ahead.
There is a post office between the bank and the store.
有 yǒu expresses estimation, often indicating to what degree somebody or something can reach.
How tall is he?
I think he’s about 180 centimeters tall.
So hot! Today’s temperature might reach 38℃!
有 yǒu expresses comparison, that is, to indicate that two people or two things are alike to a certain degree or in a certain aspect.
Affirmative Sentence structure: A有B + adjective/verb
He is as tall as his father.
Does he like music as much as his father?
Who loves him as much as I do?
Negative sentence structure: A没有B + adjective/verb
He is not as tall as his father.
Today is not as hot as yesterday.
He doesn’t love music as much as his father does.
5. Occurrence or Appearance
有 yǒu indicates occurrence or appearance.
He got a serious heart disease.
After she went to the US, she changed a lot.
You’ve made a lot of progress with your Chinese pronunciation.
6. A portion of the total; ‘some’.
有 yǒu, placed before a person, time or place noun, indicates a portion of the total, just like English ‘some’.
This book is very special, some people like, some don’t.
Sometimes, I feel learning a foreign language is very hard.
Shanghai is very big; some places are interesting, and some are boring.
7. Non-specific reference
有 yǒu is used in phrases like:
in which the reference to the day, the year, the person, or the place is not specific.
One day, he had a very strange dream.
One year, his hometown had a big flood.
Once upon a time, a person built a bridge here.