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Answers to Asking Questions with “吗(ma),” “呢(ne),” or “吧(ba)”

Feb. 4, 2015

Correct Answer: C

When you ask questions in the Chinese language you should choose different question particles in different situations. The following text will help you to learn how to ask questions with the correct question particle.

The three most common question particles in the Chinese language are “吗(ma),” “呢(ne),” and “吧(ba).” All three can be used to form questions when placed at the end of a sentence. However, the situations in which each particle should be used are slightly different, and learning to use them appropriately is important.

吗(ma)

Examples

Nancy:  Nǐ  míngtiān yǒu shíjiān ma? Péi wǒ qù guàngjiē hǎo ma?
Nancy:你   明天      有    时间    吗? 陪  我  去   逛街      好   吗?
Nancy: Do you have time tomorrow? Could you accompany me to go shopping?

Wáng Xīn: Yǒu, hǎode.
王 心:       有,  好的。
Wang Xin: OK, I have time.

Liú Míng: Nǐ xǐhuan chī jiǎozi ma?
刘 明:    你 喜欢     吃  饺子 吗?
Liu Ming: Do you like to eat dumplings?

Bruce:  Xǐhuan.
Bruce:喜欢。
Bruce: Yes I like them.

呢(ne)

“呢(ne)” can be used to return a question that the speaker has just been asked. This use relies entirely on context, and it is often equivalent to saying “and … ?” “what about … ?” or “how about … ?” in English.

Examples

Zhào Wěi:  Nǐ zài nǎlǐ  gōngzuò?
赵 伟:      你 在  哪里  工作?
Zhao Wei: Where do you work?

Cindy:  Běijīng. Nǐ ne?
Cindy:北京。  你 呢?
Cindy: Beijing. What about you?

Zhào Wěi: Wǒ zài Shànghǎi gōngzuò.
赵 伟:       我 在   上海         工作。
Zhao Wei: I work in Shanghai.

Zhāng Lín: Nǐ xǐhuan shénme yánsè?
张 琳:       你 喜欢    什么       颜色?
Zhang Lin: What color do you like?

David: Hóngsè. Nǐ ne?
David:红色。  你呢?
David: Red. How about you?

Zhāng Lín: Wǒ xǐhuan lánsè.
张 琳:       我   喜欢    蓝色。
Zhang Lin: I like blue.

吧(ba)

“吧(ba)” is usually used after a statement that the speaker thinks is correct but would like to confirm. It can also be used to imply that the speaker expects the listener will agree. This is the equivalent of adding a tag question in English, or following a statement with “对吧(duì ba)?…right?” or “好吧(hǎoba)?…OK?”

The sentence structure is:

Statement Sentence + 吧(ba)?

= Statement Sentence, 对吧(duì ba)?

= Statement Sentence, 好吧(hǎo ba)?
Here, “对吧(duì ba)?” means “right?” and “好吧(hǎoba)?” means “OK?”

Examples

Nǐ shì Wáng Míng de jiějie ba?    Nǐ shì Wáng Míng de jiějie, duì ba?
你 是  王       明    的  姐姐 吧?= 你 是   王       明    的 姐姐,对  吧?
You are Wang Ming’s elder sister, right?

Wǒmen yìqǐ   qù yóuyǒng ba? = Wǒmen yìqǐ qù yóuyǒng, hǎo ba?
我们      一起  去  游泳      吧?=  我们    一起 去   游泳,    好   吧?
Let’s go swimming together, OK?

In the test, Li Ling wants to know whether Betty has eaten yet, and Betty returns the same question to Li Ling. So the answer is C.

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