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Asking Mandarin Questions

Question Adverbs

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There are several ways to form questions in Mandarin Chinese. For simple yes/no questions, either the ma question particle or the positive/negative sentence form can be used.

If you wish to ask the “wh” questions (why, where, when, which, who, how), you can use question adverbs.

Why – Wèishénme

Wèishénme nǐ jīntiān chídào?
Why are you late today?
(trad) 為什麼你今天遲到?
(simp) 为什么你今天迟到?

Where –Nálǐ or Nǎr

Nálǐ and nǎr have the same meaning. Nálǐ is commonly used in Southern China and Taiwan, while nǎr is heard in northern China, including Beijing.

Nǐ zuówǎn qù nǎli?
Where did you go last night?
你昨晚去哪裡?

When – Shénme Shíhòu

Lǐ xiǎojie shénme shíhou huì dào?
When will Miss Li arrive?
(trad) 李小姐什麼時候會到?
(simp) 李小姐什么时候会到?

Which – Nǎ

Nǎ yīge pí bāo bǐjiào hǎokàn?
Which purse looks better?
(trad) 哪一個皮包比較好看?
(simp) 哪一个皮包比较好看?

Who – Shéi

Tā shì shuí?
Who is he?
(trad) 他是誰?
(simp) 他是谁?

How – Zěnme

Zhègè zì zěnme niàn?
How do you pronounce this character?
(trad) 這個字怎麼唸?
(simp) 这个字怎么念?

How Many – Duōshǎo or Jǐ

Zhè jiàn yáng zhuāng duōshǎo qián?
How much is this dress?
(trad) 這件洋裝多少錢?
(simp) 这件洋装多少钱?

Yǒu jǐge rén huì lái?
How many people will come?
(trad) 有幾個人會來?
(simp) 有几个人会来?
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