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Mandarin Vocabulary

Yes and No

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Mandarin does not have specific words for saying “yes” and “no.” Instead, the verb which is used in the Mandarin question is used to make a positive or negative reply.

For example, if the question was:

Do you like rice?

The answer could be:

I like.
or
I don’t like.

Answering Mandarin Questions

Mandarin questions can be answered with the question verb. This verb can be either positive (to answer “yes”) or negative (to answer “no”).

The positive form of the verb is simply the verb repeated:

Q: Nǐ xǐhuan fàn ma?
Do you like rice?
你喜歡飯嗎?

A: Xǐhuan.
(I) like.
喜歡。

If you want to say you don’t like rice, you would say bù xǐhuan.

The Mandarin “No”

To answer “no” to a question, the negative form of the question verb is formed using the particle 不 (). The only “irregular” verb is 有 (yǒu - to have), which uses 沒 (méi) for its negative form.

Méi is also used for negating Functive Verbs (action verbs) when talking about past actions. In this situation, méi is a short form for méi yǒu and either form can be used.

Mandarin Questions and Answers

Q: Nǐ yǒu bǐ ma?
Do you have a pen?
你有筆嗎?

A: Méi yǒu.
No (don’t have).
沒有。

Q: Nǐ yào bú yào mǎi?
Do you want to buy (it)?
你要不要買?

A: Yào.
Yes (want).
要。

Q: Jīntiān shì xīng qī yī ma?
Is today Monday?
今天是星期一嗎?

A: Shì.
Yes (is).
是。
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