There are two ways to ask yes / no questions in Mandarin: with the “ma” particle, or by using a positive / negative sentence structure.


The particle “ma” can be added to the end of any sentence to make it into a question. For example, if you want to ask, “Have you eaten?” (which is a standard greeting), you would say, “chī bǎo le ma?” 吃饱了吗?

The answer to this question could be, “chī bǎo le” (I have eaten) 吃饱了, or “hái méi” (not yet) 还没.

Postive / Negative

An alternate way to ask questions is to include both the positive and negative forms of the verb.

Negative verbs are usually formed with “bù” 不 as in “bù hǎo 不好” (not good), but occasionally the particle “méi 没” is used, as in “méi yǒu” 没有 (don’t have). Note that both “bù” and “méi” are used in front of the verb.


Nǐ yào bu yào qù Běijīng? 
你要不要去北京?(Do you or don’t you want to go to Beijing?)
Nǐ yào qù Běijīng ma?

Tā yǒu méi yǒu bǐ jì běn?
他有没有笔记本? (Does he or doesn’t he have a notebook?)
Tā yǒu bǐ jì běn ma?

Nǐ zhī bù zhī dào tā de míng zi? 
你知不知道他的名字?(Do you or don’t you know his name?)
Nǐ zhī dào tā de míng zi ma?
In the examples above, the verbs are yào (want); yǒu (have); and zhī dào (know).

When the positive / negative form is used with two-character verbs (like zhī dào), the verb is split after the first character, as in “zhī bù zhī dào.”

Asking "wh" questions

Mandarin Grammar

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