Chinese Pronouns

How to Ask Questions in Chinese with 吗 Ma + 是 Shi and 有 You?



How to Ask Questions in Chinese?

吗 | Ma in Chinese Questions

Asking questions in Chinese with personal pronouns is easy. | Ma in Chinese placed at the end of a sentence always indicate that it is a question, followed by a question mark.  Ma is a neutral tone and should be pronounced gently.

Using some simple sentence constructions from the previous lesson on Chinese Pronouns, we will add the ma | to the end of an answer, and turn it into a question in Mandarin instantly.

We will continue to use the English equivalent verb to BE (I am) and verb to HAVE (I have) for the below question construction by making use of all the Pronouns.

Back to basic English on a quick recap:
BE: I am, He is, She is, It is, We are, You are, They are
HAVE: I have, He has, She has, It has, We have, You have, They have

General Reply

  • Yes是, 是的
  • No不是, 不是的

*For all the below, the first sentence is always a question, followed by the answer(s).


Affirmative Questions in Chinese

Pronouns + BE  + Information + Ma

Is he our new neighbour?
Yes, he is our new neighbour.

他是我们新的邻居吗?
是, 他是我们新的邻居。

Tā shì wǒ men xīn de lín jū ma?
Shì, tā shì wǒ men xīn de lín jū.


Are you Chinese (plural)?
Yes, we are Chinese.

你们是中国人吗?
是的, 我们是中国人。

Nǐ men shì zhōng guó rén ma?
Shì de, wǒ men shì zhōng guó rén.


Are they Americans?
No, they are Europeans.

他们是美国人吗?
不是, 他们是欧洲人。

Tā men shì měi guó rén ma?
Bù shì, tā men shì ōu zhōu rén.


Are they here to look for her?
No, they are here to look for me.

他们是来这里找她的吗?
不是的, 他们是来这里找我的。

Tā men shì lái zhè lǐ zhǎo tā de ma?
Bù shì de, tā men shì lái zhè lǐ zhǎo wǒ de.



 

Pronouns + HAVE + Information + 吗 Ma

The above formula is equivalent to the questions in Chinese “Do you have ___?” The second-word 啊 and above are used as an expression or slang to emphasise or soften the effect in this context. To say with or without the and when replying yes or no questions in Chinese are not crucial.

General Reply

Yes, have有, 有啊
No, don’t have没有, 没有啊

Do you have a job?
Yes, I have a job
No, I do not have a job.

你有工作吗?
有, 我有工作。
没有, 我没有工作。

Nǐ yǒu gōng zuò ma?
Yǒu, wǒ yǒu gōng zuò.
Méi yǒu, wǒ méi yǒu gōng zuò.


Does she have friends?
Yes, she has many friends.
No, she does not have any friends.

她有朋友吗?
有啊, 她有很多朋友。
她没有朋友。

Tā yǒu péng yǒu ma?
Yǒu a, tā yǒu hěn duō péng yǒu.
Tā méi yǒu péng yǒu.


Do you have any children?
(Yes) We have two children,
(No) We do not have any children.

你们有孩子吗?
我们有两个孩子。
我们没有孩子。

Nǐ men yǒu hái zi ma?
Wǒ men yǒu liǎng gè hái zi.
Wǒ men méi yǒu hái zi.


Do they have money to buy a house?
Yes, they have money to buy a house.
No, they have no money to buy a house.

他们有钱买房子吗?
有啊! 他们有钱买房子。
他们没钱买房子。

Tā men yǒu qián mǎi fáng zi ma?
Yǒu a! Tā men yǒu qián mǎi fáng zi.
Tā men méi qián mǎi fáng zi.


Do they have questions to ask me?
Yes, they have a few questions to ask you.
No, they have no questions to ask you.

他们有问题问我吗?
有, 他们有一些问题想问您。
没有, 他们没问题问您。

Tā men yǒu wèn tí wèn wǒ ma?
Yǒu! Tā men yǒu yī xiē wèn tí xiǎng wèn nín.
Méi yǒu! Tā men méi wèn tí wèn nín.

 

For the last two negative answers from the questions in Chinese above, it is also common to drop the from before a noun. Both are correct.

他们没钱买房子 vs 他们没钱买房子
他们没问题问您 vs 他们没问题问您


Affirmative-Negative Questions in Chinese

For affirmative-negative questions in Chinese, expect to get an affirmed reply for yes or no, correct or not correct response. One main difference compared to the question construction above is that in Affirmative-Negative Questions, you say it without the ma at the end of the sentence.

Chinese Pronouns + BE + + BE + Info

Are you Miss Lin or not?
Correct, I am (Miss Lin).
No, I am not Miss Lin.

你是不是林小姐?
对。我是 (林小姐)。
我不是 (林小姐)。

Nǐ shì bù shì Lín xiǎo jiě?
Duì. Wǒ shì (Lín xiǎo jiě).
Wǒ bù shì (Lín xiǎo jiě).


Is she your girlfriend or not?
Yes, she is my girlfriend.
No, she is not my girlfriend.

她是不是你的女朋友?
是的, 她是我的女朋友。
不是, 她不是我的女朋友。

Tā shì bù shì nǐ de nǚ péng yǒu?
Shì de, tā shì wǒ de nǚ péng yǒu.
Bù shì, tā bù shì wǒ de nǚ péng yǒu.


Are they Japanese or not?
(No) They are Japanese.
(Yes) They are not Japanese.

他们是不是日本人?
他们是日本人。
他们不是日本人。

Tā men shì bù shì rì běn rén?
Tā men shì rì běn rén.
Tā men bù shì rì běn rén.


Are you nervous or not (plural)?
Yes, we are nervous.
No, we are not nervous.

你们是不是很紧张?
是的, 我们很紧张。
不是的, 我们不紧张。

Nǐ men shì bù shì hěn jǐn zhāng?
Shì de, wǒ men hěn jǐn zhāng.
Bù shì de, wǒ men bù jǐn zhāng.


Is it that you do not like me?
Yes, I do not like you.
No, I like you.

你是不是不喜欢我?
是, 我不喜欢你。
不是, 我喜欢你。

Nǐ shì bù shì bù xǐ huān wǒ?
Shì, wǒ bù xǐ huān nǐ.
Bù shì, wǒ xǐ huān nǐ.

 

*The yes reply to the last sentence is a confirmation to a negative question and vice versa. Therefore, it is a bit tricky.




Pronouns + HAVE + + HAVE + Info

Have you all done your homework?
Yes, we have done our homework.
No, we have not done our homework.

你们有没有做功课?
有, 我们有做功课。
没有, 我们没做功课。

Nǐ men yǒu méi yǒu zuò gōng kè?
Yǒu, wǒ men yǒu zuò gōng kè.
Méi yǒu, wǒ men méi zuò gōng kè.


Have you been to Korea?
Yes, I have been to Korea.
No, I have not been to Korea.

你有没有去过韩国?
有, 我有去过韩国。
没有, 我没去过韩国。

Nǐ yǒu méi yǒu qù guò hán guó?
Yǒu, wǒ yǒu qù guò hán guó.
Méi yǒu, wǒ méi qù guò hán guó.


Does he have the money to pay rent?
Yes, he has the money to pay rent.
No, he does not have the money to pay rent.

他有没有钱还租金?
有啊!他有钱还租金。
没有啊!他没钱还租金。

Tā yǒu méi yǒu qián hái zū jīn?
Yǒu a! Tā yǒu qián hái zū jīn.
Méi yǒu a! Tā méi qián hái zū jīn.


Does she have a boyfriend?
Yes, she has a boyfriend.
No, she does not have a boyfriend.

她有没有男朋友?
有, 她有男朋友。
没有, 她没有男朋友。

Tā yǒu méi yǒu nán péng yǒu?
Yǒu, tā yǒu nán péng yǒu.
Méi yǒu, tā méi yǒu nán péng yǒu.


Have you experienced days without a job and money?
Yes, I have experienced days without a job and money.
No, I have not experienced days without a job and money.

你有没有经历过没工作、没钱的日子?
有, 我有经历过没工作、没钱的日子。
没有, 我没经历过没工作、没钱的日子。

Nǐ yǒu méi yǒu jīng lì guò méi gōng zuò, méi qián de rì zi?
Yǒu, wǒ yǒu jīng lì guò méi gōng zuò, méi qián de rì zi.
Méi yǒu, wǒ méi jīng lì guò méi gōng zuò, méi qián de rì zi.


By answering positively “have” in the last sentence of the questions in Chinese, you are affirming to the negation asked.

Negative Questions in Chinese

If you are a beginner just starting to learn Chinese, it is advisable to avoid using negative-sentence construction when asking your questions in Chinese. It might confuse you and others if the question asked is ambiguous and does not fit into the context or when you construct questions in Chinese inaccurately.

It is worse when someone just replies you a yes or no answer to a negative question without elaborating on the reply. Then, you might doubt the meaning of the response if the person truly understands what you want to express. Try to avoid it unless you already have a good grasp of the Chinese language.

The ambiguity can be avoided by not giving only a yes or no answer. Provide more details to such questions in Chinese. The problem of misinterpreting negative-questions does not occur merely in the Chinese language, but also in English sentences.



One such example provided in an English forum with the question “Don’t you have money?” The person asking wanted to find out if a positive reply will lead to what kind of connotation for others. That is:-

  • Yes, I have the money. Or,
  • Yes, I have no money.

It is hardly a surprise when different people have a different meaning to the yes and no answer. The same goes for the Chinese language. If a question is ambiguous and set other people wondering about its meaning, then it is best to avoid giving a yes and no answer.

Unfortunately, negative-questions are commonly employed in sentences when it comes to speaking and writing to stress the point.

Pronouns + (Negative Word) BE 不是 + Info +   Ma

Is she not your sister?
She is not my sister.
She is my sister.

她不是你姐姐吗?
– 她不是我姐姐。
– 她是我姐姐。

Tā bù shì nǐ jiě jiě ma?
Tā bù shì wǒ jiě jiě.
Tā shì wǒ jiě jiě.


Aren’t you joking?
I am not joking.
I am joking.

你不是开玩笑吧?
– 我不是开玩笑。
– 我在开玩笑。

Nǐ bù shì kāi wán xiào ma?
Wǒ bù shì kāi wán xiào.
Wǒ zài kāi wán xiào.



Pronouns + (Negative Word) HAVE 没有 + Info +  Ma

Don’t you have a boyfriend?
I do not have a boyfriend.
I have a boyfriend.

你没有男朋友吗?
– 我没有男朋友。
– 我有男朋友。

Nǐ méi yǒu nán péng yǒu ma?
Wǒ méi yǒu nán péng yǒu.
Wǒ yǒu nán péng yǒu.


Don’t you have a good sleep/ sleep well?
I did not sleep well.
I have slept well.

你没有睡好吗?
– 我睡的不好。
– 我睡的很好。

Nǐ méi yǒu shuì hǎo ma?
Wǒ shuì de bù hǎo.
Wǒ shuì de hěn hǎo.


Summary and Comparison – Questions in Chinese

Now, we place three similar questions on a table of questions in Chinese of what you have learnt this lesson. You can compare the difference in how we can ask the same question in three ways.

  1. Affirmative Questions
  2. Negative Questions
  3. Affirmative-Negative Questions

Quick Summary:-

  • Add 吗 ma to the first two sentences – affirmative and negative questions.
  • Do not add  ma to the construction of the affirmative-negative questions.

Are you tired?
Are you not tired?
Are you tired or not?

你累吗?
你不累吗?
你是不是很累?

Nǐ lèi ma?
Nǐ bù lèi ma?
Nǐ shì bù shì hěn lèi?


Are you Singaporeans (plural)?
Are you all not Singaporeans?
Are all of you Singaporeans or not?

你们是新加坡人吗?
你们不是新加坡人吗?
你们是不是新加坡人?

Nǐ men shì xīn jiā pō rén ma?
Nǐ men bù shì xīn jiā pō rén ma?
Nǐ men shì bù shì xīn jiā pō rén?


Is he your boss?
Is he not your boss?
Is he your boss or not?

他是你老板吗?
他不是你老板吗?
他是不是你老板?

Tā shì nǐ lǎo bǎn ma?
Tā bù shì nǐ lǎo bǎn ma?
Tā shì bù shì nǐ lǎo bǎn?


Does it have food to eat?
Doesn’t it have food to eat?
Does it have food to eat or not?

它有东西吃吗?
它没有东西吃吗?
它有没有东西吃?

Tā yǒu dōng xī chī ma?
Tā méi yǒu dōng xī chī ma?
Tā yǒu méi yǒu dōng xī chī?


Have we been to that country?
Haven’t we been to that country?
Have we been to that country or not?

我们有去过那个国家吗?
我们没有去过那个国家吗?
我们有没有去过那个国家?

Wǒ men yǒu qù guò nà gè guó jiā ma?
Wǒ men méi yǒu qù guò nà gè guó jiā ma?
Wǒ men yǒu méi yǒu qù guò nà gè guó jiā?


Have you heard of this incident?
Have you not heard of this incident?
Have you heard of this incident or not?

你有听说过这件事吗?
你没有听说过这件事吗?
你有没有听说过这件事?

Nǐ yǒu tīng shuō guò zhè jiàn shì ma?
Nǐ méi yǒu tīng shuō guò zhè jiàn shì ma?
Nǐ yǒu méi yǒu tīng shuō guò zhè jiàn shì?

 

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

eleven + 16 =

Back to top button
Close