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用不了 vs. 用不着

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December 9, 2015

Could someone please help me understand the difference between 用不了 and 用不着?

1 Answer

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用不了 is another way of saying 不能用  “cannot use,” e.g., 我用不了那个PC软件,因为我的电脑是苹果电脑。(I cannot use that PC software, as my computer is an Apple computer).

用不着 has more of a sense of 不需要 “don’t need to,” e.g., 这件事,他已经知道了,用不着再通知他。(He already knows about this matter, there is no need to contact him again.)

用不着 also has a sense of “have no use for/is no longer useful,” e.g.,“那本字典用不着了,还是网上字典快多了!” (That [print] dictionary is no longer useful, online dictionaries are much faster!”) Note that this is different from 用不了, as one can still use a print dictionary, but it’s usefulness is put into question with this use of 用不着.

Hope this helps!