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Grammar: Questions

  1. Yes-no questions
  2. Question words

Yes-no questions

In Chinese there are two ways to change a statement into a yes-no question.

1) Adding a question particle to the end of the sentence

ma(question particle)
A)你会说中文你會說中文Nǐ huì shuō Zhōngwén ma?Do you speak Chinese?
B)你有笔你有筆Nǐ yǒu bǐ ma?Do you have a pen?
C)她走她走Tā zǒule ma?Did she leave?
D)他去中国他去中國Tā qùguo Zhōngguó ma?Has he been to China?

2) Repeating the verb by it's negated form

A)你会不会说中文?你會不會說中文?Nǐ huì bu huì shuō Zhōngwén?Do you speak Chinese?
B)你有没有笔?你有沒有筆?Nǐ yǒu méiyǒu bǐ?Do you have a pen?

For past tense, the auxiliary verb is used, while the particle is omitted.

C)没有走?沒有走?yǒu méiyǒu zǒu?Did she leave?
D)没有中国?沒有中國?yǒu méiyǒuguo Zhōngguó?Has he been to China?

Answer

In Chinese, there are no words for yes and no, but two ways to answer yes-no questions.

1) Repeating the verb

A)huìYes, I do
A)不会不會bú huìNo, I don't
B)yǒuYes, I have
B)没有沒有méiyǒuNo, I haven't
C)走了zǒuleYes, she did
C)méi(yǒu) zǒuNo, she didn't
D)去过去過qùguoYes, he has
D)去过去過méi(yǒu) qùguoNo, he hasn't

2) Using a replacement verb

是的shì deSo it is
duìRight
不是búshìIt isn't
(present tense/imperfect)
没有沒有méiyǒuIt wasn't
(past tense/perfect)

Question words

The question word is always in place of the unknown part of the sentence. So the word order doesn't change at all.

Exception: is placed on the end of the sentence.

The final particle may be added to the question in order to emphase it.

你在哪里你在那裡Nǐ zài nǎlǐ a?Where are you?
newhat about
什么什麼shénmewhat
shá 话what
shéiwho
哪个哪個nǎgè / něigèwhich
哪儿哪兒nǎr [N]where
哪里哪裡nǎlǐwhere
什么时候什么時候shénme shíhouwhen
何时何時héshí 文when
多久duōjiǔhow long (time)
多长时间多長時間duōcháng shíjiānhow long (time)
多久…一次duōjiǔ ... yícìhow often
多常duōchánghow often
how much, how many (numbers up to 10)
多少duōshǎohow much, how many (larger numbers)
为什么為什麼wèishénmewhy
为何為何wèihé 文why
怎么怎麼zěnmehow, how come (why)
怎么样怎麼樣zěnmeyànghow
如何rúhé 文how