In the tenth lesson we will learn a new interrogative form, called the
affirmative-negative form. This form has the following pattern:
verb - 是不是
attributive not attributive -
If this sounds complex, it isn't, we swear. We'll take a
look at some concrete examples here in a second.
First, we want to
explain both the nuances and use of this form. For starters, it is a bit more
conversational than the ...吗？form; secondly, it is a
bit more rhetorical, meaning that the person giving the question in the
affirmative-negative form usually expects one answer or the other (or is even
upset, see below).
10.01 Question forms with complement
Nǐ shì lǎoshī ma? Are you a teacher?
Nǐ shì bú shì lǎoshī? Are you a teacher?
Tā shì Rìběnrén ma? Is she Japanese?
她是不是日本人？ Tā shì bú shì Rìběnrén?
Is she Japanese?
Zhāng lǎoshī shì Qīngdǎorén ma? Is Teacher Zhang from Qingdao?
张老师是不是青岛人？ Zhāng lǎoshī shì bú shì Qīngdǎorén?
Is Teacher Zhang from Qingdao?
The form for this question is verb (不) verb, or to put it another way, the verb followed by the negation of the verb.
It is important to remember that some verbs use 没 méi and not 不bù in the negative form, in which case the pattern should be verb (没)
This question is a yes-no
question, meaning that the answer to the question should typically be either an
affirmative or negative, as opposed to open-ended questions which use specific
了le is a past particle that serves a purely grammatical function.
It implies a state that someone is already hungry or thirsty. In this particular situation the 了le
is optional, although the 了le form question is more
10.04 Is China good or not good?
Nǐ shì nǎ guórén?
Wǒ shì Hánguórén.
Nǐ shì liúxuéshēng ma?
Shì, wǒ shì liúxuéshēng.
Zhōngguó hǎo bù hǎo?
10.05 Are you or aren't you a man?
你是不是男人？ Nǐ shì bú shì nánrén？
Are you or aren't you a man?
你是不是女人？ Nǐ shì bú shì nǚrén？
Are you or aren't you a woman?
你是不是老师？ Nǐ shì bú shì lǎoshī？
Are you or aren't you a teacher?
你是不是大人？ Nǐ shì bú shì dàrén？
Are you or aren't you an adult?
In certain situations the affirmative / negative form of the question in Chinese takes on the sardonic note found in similar constructions in English - "Are you or aren't you man?!?"
etc. etc. However, English speakers should note that in most situations the
affirmative-negative form does not have the same sarcastic and / or
confrontational feel that it has in English.
10.06 Are you hungry? - Concept review dialogue
Nǐ kě bù kě ?
Wǒ bù kě. Wǒ è sǐ le.
Wǒ yě hěn è.
A Transcribe the characters below into pinyin
B Convert these questions into the