Being new to Chinese please forgive any ignorance of mine. In lesson 2.2, line 2, the sentence structure is "nin yao mai...ma?". In lesson 2.3, line 5, the sentence structure is "ni yao mai...?" Is it optional to use "ma" to form a question with this sentence structure? There doesn't seem to be any question words (e.g. ji , shenme) in either of these sentences so I would think both would need "ma" at the end to be question sentences. Appreciate any clarification. Thanks.
Ma or no ma?
August 19, 2010
August 24, 2010
Ni hao RocketDude, Thanks for your post and question! Question structure in Chinese can be a bit difficult to grasp. Basically, 'ma' is compulsory in a yes/no question. If you want to ask questions like 'do you?', 'did you?' or 'are you?', 'ma' has to be used at the end of the sentence. I hope this has helped clarify! Best of luck with your Chinese learning! :D
June 16, 2011
You can form a question with or without 'ma' actually! :) However, when you're asking your question without a 'ma', make sure you got the annotation right! Example: Try to read these two sentences. For the first one, pretend you're asking. For the second sentence, pretend you're just saying. Come on! :) Read these two aloud: You want to buy? You want to buy. (Yes, I know they are not proper English - but read them again.. and take note HOW you read the two sentence.) Notice that for the first sentence, you kinda rise your pitch as you go to the end of the sentence. This 'rising of pitch' makes the listener knows it's a question. The same goes here! A different annotation will pretty much make it into a question! However, you can add 'ma' to make it a compulsory for the sentence to become a question, just like you add 'do you...' to make a statement into a question. E.g. 您买吗？ (nin mai ma?) 您买？ (nin mai?) Do you want to buy? You want to buy? IF you got the annotation wrong, it will no longer be a question: 您买。 (nin mai) You want to buy. I am not trying to be rude here (or what-so-ever) but most Chinese learners tend to get the annotations wrong -very wrong- so adding a 'ma' will really put you on the safe side. Hope I helped! :) Happy Chinese Learning! :D
June 16, 2011
This is a very interesting discussion. I have been learning Chinese for many years both at University and in China and none of my instructors mentioned the use of voice pitch to create a question in Mandarin. Can some one show me the grammar rule for this on the site?
June 18, 2011
People got lazy (or to save time) they simply omit 'ma'. Here are some general rule, keep in mind that I might be wrong! - Some question will sound strange without 'ma'. The 'ma' can then be added to make the question smoother. - Questions without 'ma' is generally less polite. If you're talking to elders or having a business talk, don't simply throw away the 'ma'! :) Talking to friends that you're close to is acceptable. - Not all questions can do without 'ma'. Some REALLY sound strange. Like I said, you CAN form a question without 'ma', but not all the questions in this world. Some questions may not use 'ma' but 'ne' etc... I would like to say there's no really fixed rule for this. O_O It's more to "you'll know how to use it as you use Chinese often". As a side note, 'ma' = polite, so if someone got mad at you and then ask you a question, chances that you will hear 'ma' are low :) Using the example above: 您买吗？ (nin mai ma?) 您买？ (nin mai?) Do you want to buy? You want to buy? The seller: 请问您买吗？ （请问 = Polite way of starting a question) > Would you like to buy? You: Hmm..... (Stand there for ten hours thinking LOL) Then the seller got tired and mad of you because you're blocking other customers' path. The seller: 您到底买不买？！？！？ > ARE YOU GOING TO BUY OR WHAT???????? Notice that the last question has no 'ma'. :D
August 15, 2011
Thanks Wong, I appreciate that you answered this question in detailed ways.
August 23, 2011
Thank you, Lin Ping 老师. I appreciate your appreciation. :)