Learning Chinese  
Session 3 (2010-10-10)
  Asking questions and replying to questions (2/2); Negating information
(based on book Modern Mandarin Chinese Grammar by Claudia Ross & Jing-heng Sheng Ma, 2006)

 
  1. Rhetorical questions
To ask a question for which you think you know the answer, use 不是 bù shì + 嗎ma. 不是occurs immediately before the predicate.

你    不    是     學生           嗎?
You  not  be    student ?
nǐ   bú   shì     xué shēng ma ?
Aren’t you a student?

你    不是     已經    讀        過         那本     書      了嗎?
You not be already read (finished) that    book
nǐ   bú shì   yǐ jīng dú     guò        nà běn shū le ma ?
Haven’t you already read that book?


 
  2. Follow-up questions with 呢 ne

呢 is used to follow up a question with another question. It is used to ask the same question as the first one, but about another subject or object. 呢 follows the new subject or object.

A:  你     會    說       中文      嗎?
     You   can speak Chinese ma? (Do you speak Chinese?)
B:  會。
     Can (Yes.)
A: 西班牙 語 呢?
    Spanish ne? (What about Spanish?)
    xī bān yá yǔ ne ?
B: 不會。
    Cannot (No.)
  
 
  3. Content questions

Content questions are used to ask about the identify of a person, an object, a time, a location, or a quantity, or to seek an explanation or process. Mandarin content question words include the following: (In Mandarin, the content question word goes where the answer goes.)

WHO
Question: 你        找         誰?
                You   look for who?
                nǐ      zhǎo     shuí ?
Answer:   我        找       林 老師。
                I       look for Lin teacher
               wǒ     zhǎo      lín lǎo shī 。

WHAT
Question: 這    是     什麽?
                This be what?
                zhè shì shí me ?
Answer:   這    是    手機。
               This  be    cell phone
                zhè shì    shǒu jī 。

Question: 你    用    什麽    電腦?
               You use what computer?
               nǐ yòng shíme diàn nǎo ?
Answer: 我 用 蘋果 電腦。
              I use Apploe computer
             wǒ yòng pín guǒ diàn nǎo 。

WHEN
Question: 你     什麽      時候    有空?
               You   what     time    available?
                nǐ shíme shíhòu yǒu kōng ?
Answer:   我     今天    下午   有空。
               I       today afternoon available
              wǒ jīn tiān xià wǔ yǒu kōng 。

Question: 你    幾      點       下     課?
               You what o'clock finish class
               nǐ    jǐ      diǎn     xià   kè ?
Answer:  我    三 點              下       課。
                I     three o'clock finish class
                wǒ sān diǎn         xià      kè 。

WHERE
Question: 你    要    去    哪里?
               You will   go where?
                nǐ   yào qù    nǎ lǐ ?
Answer:   我    要     回     家。
                I will go/return home
                wǒ yào    huí   jiā 。

Question: 你    在    什麽     地方   吃   午飯?
                You at    what    place eat lunch?
                nǐ zài shíme dìfāng chī wǔfàn ?
Answer:  我    在      餐廳      吃    午飯。
                I     at     cafeteria eat lunch
                wǒ zài cān tīng chī wǔ fàn 。

HOW
怎麼 ‘how’ asks for a process. It occurs right before the verb.

Question: 這      個     字       怎麼      寫?
               This        character how    write?
               zhè gè zì zěn me xiě ?
Answer: 這     個     字            這樣       寫。
              This         character this way write?
               zhè gè    zì           zhèyàng xiě 。

Question: 那    個     飯館    怎麼     樣?
               That     restaurant how (state)?
               nà gè fàn guan zěn me yàng ?
Answer: (那個飯館) 還 不 錯。
     (That restaurant ) not bad.

WHY
Question: 你      為甚么      學      中文?
               You     why      study Chinese
               nǐ wéi shèn me xué zhōng wén ?
Answer:   因為     我     想     在     中國     找    工作。
               Because I    want  in     China    find job
              yīn wéi wǒ xiǎng zài zhōng guó zhǎo gōng zuò 。

In Mandarin, content question words are used in expressions that express the meanings ‘any,’ ‘every,’ ‘none,’ ‘aways,’ ‘never,’ etc.

誰        都        認識      他。
Who   all         know    him
shuí    dōu       rèn shí  tā 。

他    什麽        書      都 看。
He   what     book   all read
tā   shíme     shū     dōu kàn 。
 
  4. Negating information

Negation of verbs and verb phrases
The words that are used to negate verbs and verb phrases in Mandarin are 不bù and 沒méi. 不 and 沒 immediately precede the verb or anything that precedes and modifies the verb, including an adverb, a location phrase, or any other prepositional phrase.

1)不 is the marker of negation for adjectives, and action verbs.

我   爸爸   不  喜歡 他。
My dad   not like him
wǒ bàbà bú xǐhuān tā 。

他   長     得 不    高。
He grow de not tall. (He is not tall.)
tā zhǎng dé bú gāo 。

她    不   喝酒。
She not drink. (She doesn’t drink.)
tā    bú  hē jiǔ 。

不 bù occurs between the verb and the resultative suffix to indicate inability to achieve the result. Here are some examples.

聽懂(listen understand)--> 聽不懂(listen 不 understand)
他   說得    太   快。 我  聽     不   懂。
He speak too fast. I    listen not understand.
tā shuō dé tài kuài 。wǒ tīng bú dǒng 。

看見(see)-> 看不見
我   沒    戴   眼鏡,     看    不見。
I     not wear glasses. See cannot
wǒ méi dài yǎn jìng, kàn bú jiàn 。

2)沒méi is the negation word that negates the verb 有.
他    沒有      錢。
He    hasn’t money.
tā    méi yǒu qián 。

家里        沒有    人。
At home no    people. (No one is at home.)
jiā lǐ     méi yǒu rén 。

我    昨天    沒      吃     晚飯。
I yesterday didn’t eat dinner.
wǒ zuó tiān méi chī wǎn fàn 。

Words that occur with negation

1) never 從來
我    從來沒         抽        過      煙。
I     never          smoke (past) smoke/cigarette.
wǒ cóng lái méi chōu     guò   yān 。

2) absolutely not 根本
我    根本 不         信        他   說的     話。
I absolutely not   believe he said     words.
wǒ   gēn běn bú  xìn       tā shuō de huà 。

3) any任何
我     沒    告訴    任何    人。
I (did)not tell      any    person
wǒ méi    gào sù rèn hé rén 。