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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

ㄇㄚ˙(question particle)
A)你会说中文ㄋㄧˇ ㄏㄨㄟˋ ㄕㄨㄛ  ㄓㄨㄥ  ㄨㄣˊ ㄇㄚ˙?Do you speak Chinese?
B)你有笔ㄋㄧˇ ㄧㄡˇ ㄅㄧˇ ㄇㄚ˙?Do you have a pen?
C)她走ㄊㄚ  ㄗㄡˇ ㄌㄜ˙ ㄇㄚ˙?Did she leave?
D)他去中国ㄊㄚ  ㄑㄩˋ ㄍㄨㄛ˙ ㄓㄨㄥ  ㄍㄨㄛˊ ㄇㄚ˙?Has he been to China?

2) Repeating the verb by it's negated form

A)你会不会说中文?ㄋㄧˇ ㄏㄨㄟˋ ㄅㄨ˙ ㄏㄨㄟˋ ㄕㄨㄛ  ㄓㄨㄥ  ㄨㄣˊ?Do you speak Chinese?
B)你有没有笔?ㄋㄧˇ ㄧㄡˇ ㄇㄟˊ ㄧㄡˇ ㄅㄧˇ?Do you have a pen?

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

C)没有走?ㄊㄚ  ㄧㄡˇ ㄇㄟˊ ㄧㄡˇ ㄗㄡˇ?Did she leave?
D)没有中国?ㄊㄚ  ㄧㄡˇ ㄇㄟˊ ㄧㄡˇ ㄑㄩˋ ㄍㄨㄛ˙ ㄓㄨㄥ  ㄍㄨㄛˊ?Has he been to China?


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

1) Repeating the verb

A)ㄏㄨㄟˋYes, I do
A)不会ㄅㄨˊ ㄏㄨㄟˋNo, I don't
B)ㄧㄡˇYes, I have
B)没有ㄇㄟˊ ㄧㄡˇNo, I haven't
C)走了ㄗㄡˇ ㄌㄜ˙Yes, she did
C)ㄇㄟˊ (ㄧㄡˇ) ㄗㄡˇNo, she didn't
D)去过ㄑㄩˋ ㄍㄨㄛ˙Yes, he has
D)去过ㄇㄟˊ (ㄧㄡˇ) ㄑㄩˋ ㄍㄨㄛ˙No, he hasn't

2) Using a replacement verb

是的ˋ ㄉㄜ˙So it is
不是ㄅㄨˊˋIt isn't
(present tense/imperfect)
没有ㄇㄟˊ ㄧㄡˇIt 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ㄋㄧˇ ㄗㄞˋ ㄋㄚˇ ㄌㄧˇ ˙?Where are you?
ㄋㄜ˙what about
什么ㄕㄣˊ ㄇㄜ˙what
ㄕㄚˊ 话what
哪个ㄋㄚˇ ㄍㄜˋ / ㄋㄟˇ ㄍㄜˋwhich
哪儿ㄋㄚㄦˇ [N]where
哪里ㄋㄚˇ ㄌㄧˇwhere
什么时候ㄕㄣˊ ㄇㄜ˙ˊ ㄏㄡ˙when
何时ㄏㄜˊˊ 文when
多久ㄉㄨㄛ  ㄐㄧㄡˇhow long (time)
多长时间ㄉㄨㄛ  ㄔㄤˊˊ ㄐㄧㄢ how long (time)
多久…一次ㄉㄨㄛ  ㄐㄧㄡˇ ... ㄧˊˋhow often
多常ㄉㄨㄛ  ㄔㄤˊhow often
ㄐㄧˇhow much, how many (numbers up to 10)
多少ㄉㄨㄛ  ㄕㄠˇhow much, how many (larger numbers)
为什么ㄨㄟˋ ㄕㄣˊ ㄇㄜ˙why
为何ㄨㄟˋ ㄏㄜˊ 文why
怎么ㄗㄣˇ ㄇㄜ˙how, how come (why)
怎么样ㄗㄣˇ ㄇㄜ˙ ㄧㄤˋhow
如何ㄖㄨˊ ㄏㄜˊ 文how