Chinese Question Particles 吗, 呢, 吧
Posted by Lilian Li on 2016-09-26 15:32:26 2626

question-particles-small

As a Chinese teacher, I’ve been asked several times about the difference between the above three question particles, also called question words ---“ma”吗, “ne”呢, and “ba”吧.” The truth is their differences are quite obvious once you know their usage for particular situations.

1. 吗 ‘ma’

吗”Ma”actually has no meaning. It is just an interrogative particle used at the end of a statement to make it a yes/no question. It also symbolizes a general question.

Example:
Mǎ lì shì hàn yǔ lǎo shī ma? 玛丽是汉语老师吗? (Is Mary a Chinese teacher?)
Nǐ rèn shí dà wèi ma? 你认识大卫吗?(Do you know David?)
Jié kè yě shì měi guó rén ma? 杰克也是美国人吗?(Is Jack also American?)

2. 呢 ‘ne’

呢 “ne” means “what about...?” We put “ne” at the end of a sentence following the topic to raise a question.

Wǒ shì zhōng guó rén, nǐ ne? 我是中国人,你呢?(I’m Chinese, what about you?)
Wǒ yǒu liǎng gè mèi mèi, nǐ ne? 我有两个妹妹,你呢?(I have two younger sisters, what about you?)
Shàng hǎi hěn dà, Běijīng ne?上海很大,北京呢?(Shanghai is very big, what about Beijing?)

In addition, 呢 “ne” can be used to express mood or express how a statement relates to reality or context.

Lǎo bǎn méi lái ne. 老板没来呢。(The boss didn’t come.)
Tā hái shì bú shuō ne. 他还是不说呢。(He isn’t talking yet.)

3. 吧 ‘ba’

When used at the end of an imperative statement, “ba” indicates a suggestion or consultation, always followed by an exclamation mark.

Wǒ men qù chī niú pái ba! 我们去吃牛排吧!(Let’s go to eat steak!)
Gěi tā yī bēi kě lè ba! 给她一杯可乐吧!(Let’s give her a glass of coke!)
Wǎn shang wǒ qù jiē nǐ ba! 晚上我去接你吧!(Let me pick you up in the evening!)

Here, I give you some exercises to practice!

1) Wǒ men yī qǐ qù lù kǒu de fàn diàn chī fàn _____!
我们一起去路口的饭店吃饭_____!

2) Nǐ yào hé wǒ men yī qǐ zǒu _____?
你要和我们一起走_____?

3)Wǒ jīn tiān liù diǎn xià bān , nǐ _____?
我今天六点下班,你_____?

4) Wǒ men yī qǐ shuō hàn yǔ _____!
我们一起说汉语_____!

5) Zhè li de yī fú bú dǎ zhé, xié _____? Xié dǎ zhé _____?
这里的衣服不打折,鞋_____?鞋打折_____?

6) Jīn tiān shì tā de shēng rì, nǐ gěi tā mǎi yī gè shēng rì dàn gāo _____!
今天是她的生日,你给她买一个生日蛋糕_____!

7)Zhōu mò wǒ men yīqǐ qù nán jīng, hǎo _____?
周末我们一起去南京,好_____?

Leave your answer in the comment zone! If you want to know the correct answer, contact me here and let me tell you!

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