Question Particles 吗 ma, 呢 ne,吧 ba

 

Unlike in English, most questions start with a question word such as ‘what’, ‘when’, ‘weather’, in Chinese, we place question particles at the end of a question where there is a lack of question words, or simply just to add emphasis to the tones in your speech.

The three common question particles in Chinese are:

吗 ma:for asking yes or no questions, where there is only one answer to the question, it’s either this way or that way. 

shuǐ shǒu men jīn tiān tiān qì hǎo ma? huì xià yǔ ma? kě yǐ kāi chuán ma

水手们今天天气好吗?会下雨吗?可以开船吗?

Sailors, is the weather good today? Is it going to rain? Can we set sail?

Other examples:

zhè yàng kě yǐ ma

这样可以吗?Is this okay?

zuì jìn hǎo ma

最近好吗?How are you recently (Are you good recently?)

nǐ hē chá ma

你喝茶吗? Do you drink tea?

呢 ne: for asking open, reciprocal questions

Ā gān, nǐ zài zuò shén me ne? zěn me bù qù kāi chuán ne

阿甘,你在做什么呢?怎么不去开船呢?

A Gan, what are you doing? How come you are not helping to get the ship going?

Other examples:

zěn me zhè me màn ne

怎么这么慢呢?! How come it is so slow?!

tā shì nǎ lǐ rén ne

他是哪里人呢?Where is he from?

nǐ jué dé ne

你觉得呢? What do you think, how do you think about this?

 

吧:used when asking for confirmation or reassurance

nǐ hái hǎo ba? méi shì ba

你还好吧?没事吧?

Are you okay? Is there any problems?

Other examples:

nǐ hái méi huí guó ba

你还没回国吧? You haven’t returned to your country yet, have you?

wǒ méi shuō cuò ba

我没说错吧?!I didn’t say it wrong, did I (this phrase is often used when you’ve made a prediction, and it had come true). 

zhè bú shì zhēn de ba

这不是真的吧?! This is not for real, or is it?! (Is this for real?!)

 

 

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