Mandarin Chinese Question Formats
Learning how to ask questions in a new language is as important as learning
basic survival sentences--maybe more important.
By that I mean, what good is learning, "One beer, please, bartender,"
if you can't ask before that, "Excuse me, where can I get a beer?"
Using the particle
(ma) is not the only way to create a question. Two other common formats involve
interrogatives (who, what, where, why, when, and how) and the "verb-not-verb"
are examples of some common interrogatives.
The "Verb-not-Verb" Construction
In this format, a verb is followed
by (bù) or
mean no, not, or don't--and then the verb is repeated. These examples will show
you how the construction works.
Here's come those tone shifts again. Normally,
(bù) is pronounced in the fourth tone, but before another instance of the
fourth tone, it shifts to the second. In the "Do you want to watch
a movie?" example above, it would be pronounced like "yào bú yào."
Be aware too that in some cases,
(yŏu) is better translated as "are." Other times, "are"
will be better translated as
I'll let your Chinese teachers explain the difference
to you. I don't want to do all their work for them.
is added as a tag to the end of an already completed sentence, it functions much
as the English "right?" or "isn't it?" - and perhaps the Canadian
"eh?" Seriously. I'm not joking.... All right, all right, maybe it's
just a little joke.
can be tagged to a sentence which contains any other verb in the main clause.
Well, we'd better stop here before this becomes more
than just a brief look at grammar, even though there are many other interesting
lessons on Chinese we haven't covered yet. These should be enough to get
you started, though. If you're looking for more FREE Chinese learning resources,
be sure to check this site's growing list of recommended
Have a great time learning Chinese, and thanks for visiting
The Chinese Outpost