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Yes/no questions

It is the type of question that requires a yes or no answer.


For example:
 Are you Chinese? Yes.
 Does he have children? Yes.

This type of question must have 吗 ma at the end.

Magic 吗 ma

吗 ma is a question marker. It is a magic word! When you add 吗 at the


end of any statement the statement changes to a question.

Statement + 吗? Question

Nǐ shì Zhōngguó rén. Nǐ shì Zhōngguó rén ma?


+ 吗? =
You are a Chinese. Are you Chinese?

Nǐ ài wǒ. Nǐ ài wǒ ma?
+ 吗? =
You love me. Do you love me?

Tā yǒu háizi. Tā yǒu háizī ma?


+ 吗? =
He has children. Does he have children?

Yes/no answers
One of the criteria of the yes/no question is that the question only seeks a
yes/no answer.

Unlike English, there isn’t a fixed word for YES or NO in Chinese.


1. To say yes, or agree with the speaker, you use the same word order
and the same verb in the answer.

In the following sentences, the verb is 'shì is/am/are'. In a full answer,


you use the exact same word order in the question and change the
subject to match.

Q:

Nǐ shì Zhōngguó rén ma?

Are you (a) Chinese?


A:

Wǒ shì Zhōngguó rén.

I am (a) Chinese.
or

Shì

2. To say no, or disagree with the speaker, you use the same word order
as the question. Add the word 不 bù to the verb.
Q:

Nǐ shì Zhōngguó rén ma?

Are you (a) Chinese?


A:

Wǒ bú shì Zhōngguó rén.

I 'm not (a) Chinese.


or

Bú shì.
Notice that the word order of the question mirrors the word order of the
statement. But the subject changes accordingly.

Q:

Nǐ shì Zhōngguó rén ma?

Are you (a) Chinese?


A:

Wǒ shì Zhōngguó rén.

I am (a) Chinese.
Same verb
Use the same verb in both questions and answers.

As we mentioned, there isn’t a fixed word for YES or NO in Chinese.


The words for yes/no vary depending on what verb is used in the sentence.

 For example, the yes/no answer to the question ‘Nǐ shì Zhōngguó rén
ma?’ is shì or bú shì.
 However, shì or bú shì is the wrong answer to the question ‘Do you
love me?’ because the verb is ‘ài love’ this time.
 Let’s find out how to say yes/no to this question:
o First we change the statement ‘Nǐ ài wǒ / You love me’ into a
question by adding ma.
Q:

Nǐ ài wǒ ma?

Do you love me?

o For a yes answer, you should use the same word order and the
same verb.
Q:

Wǒ ài nǐ.
I love you.
or

Ài.

o To say No, use the same order but add 'bù' before the verb.
Q:

Wǒ bú ài nǐ.

I don't love you.


or

Bú ài.
Remember...

Notes: Remember the verb 有 yǒu has its own special rules.
 The short answer for yes and no is:

o 有
yǒu
(I/you have, he/she has)
o 没有
méiyǒu
(I/you don’t have, he/she doesn’t have)
 没有 méiyǒu is the negative form at all times.
Do not confuse it with bù. It’s never ‘bù yǒu.’
Just remember, if you know how to form a statement in Chinese, you
should have no problem turning it into a question.

1. Add 吗 to the end of a statement to turn it into a yes/no question.


2. To give a yes answer:
Remove 吗 at the end, make sure the subject matches the subject in
the question, keep the verb as it is.
3. To give a no answer:
Remove 吗 at the end, make sure the subject matches the subject in

the question, add bù before the verbs. The exception is the verb 有.

The negative is 没有.