Mandarin for Beginners: Sentence Structure "A不A" Question Sentence
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烫头发 (tàng tóufa) Having a perm

Mar. 20, 2012


        Nǐ jīntiān de fàxíng hěn bù yíyàng ye.
Tom: 你今天   的 发型     很  不   一样   耶。


        Your hairstyle looks very different today.

        Ò, wǒ tàngle yí xià.
 Jen: 哦,我烫了 一 下。


        Oh yeah, I got a perm.

After a while…

        Á, yán bu yánzhòng a?
Tom: 啊!严不 严重      啊?


        Ah, is it serious?

The word “烫 (tàng)” literally means to burn. But when it refers to hair, it means to perm.

Key Learning Point:
The sentence structure (严不严重啊?)  in this dialogue uses the affirmative form plus the negative form to raise a question. The listener is expected to answer the question in either the affirmative or negative. It is called the “A不A” sentence structure in Chinese.

There are three forms of the “A不A” sentence structure that are most commonly used, as follows:
1. “Verb+不(没)+Verb” (the negated component appearing after the negative word)

Nǐ zuótiān jiàn méi jiàn tā?
你 昨天      见   没   见  他?


Did you meet him yesterday?

Zhè cì kǎoshì nán bu nán?
这   次 考试     难   不   难?


Is the exam difficult this time?

2. “Verb+不(没)” (keeping the negative word but omitting the negated component after it)

Nǐ míngtiān lái bu?
你 明天      来 不?


Will you come tomorrow?

Nǐ rènshí tā bu?
你 认识    他不?


Do you know him?

3. Adding a Verb+不+Verb phrase at the end of the sentence)

Míngtiān jiè nǐ de chē yòng xià, xíng bu xíng?
明天       借 你的   车    用    下,行   不   行?


Can you lend me your car tomorrow?

Nǐ méiyǒu piàn wǒ, duì bu duì?
你 没有      骗   我,对 不 对?


You didn’t cheat me, right?

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