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How to Form Questions in Chinese

There are a few different ways to ask questions in Chinese. One of the simplest is to take a statement and make it into a question by adding the character 吗 ma to the end of the sentence.

Some examples:

你是中国人
Nǐ shì zhōngguó rén
You are Chinese

你是中国人吗?
Nǐ shì zhōngguó rén ma?
Are you Chinese?

你喜欢喝茶
Nǐ xǐhuān hē chá
You like to drink tea

你喜欢喝茶吗?
Nǐ xǐhuān hē chá ma?
Do you like to drink tea?

他是学生
Tā shì xuéshēng
He is a student

他是学生吗?
Tā shì xuésheng ma?
Is he a student

你去过中国
Nǐ qùguo zhōngguó
You have been to China (before)

你去过中国吗?
Nǐ qùguo zhōngguó ma?
Have you ever been to China?

But normally you don’t use 吗 (ma) at the end of the sentence when you already have a question word like what, who, when etc that is making it a question already.

Another way to form a question is to repeat the verb and add the character 不 in between.

去不去 (literally: go not go)
要不要 (literally: want not want)
喜不喜欢 (literally: like not like)

你走
Nǐ zǒu
You leave

你走不走?
Nǐ zǒu bù zǒu?
Are you leaving?
(literally: you leave not leave)

Let’s compare these two ways of asking questions.

These two sentences have the same meaning: Are you Chinese?

你是中国人吗?
Nǐ shì zhōngguó rén ma?

你是不是中国人?
Nǐ shìbùshì zhōngguó rén?

Do you love me?

你爱我吗?
Nǐ ài wǒ ma?

你爱不爱我?
Nǐ ài bù ài wǒ?

You can also make questions with adjectives.

For example:

Are you cold?

你冷吗?
Nǐ lěng ma?

你冷不冷?
Nǐ lěng bù lěng?

But when the sentence contains 有 (yǒu, to have, have done something) you don’t use 不 (bù, not) but 没 (méi), so you would say 没有 (méiyǒu, don’t have) or (haven’t done smth).

Some examples:

你有没有电脑?
Nǐ yǒu méiyǒu diànnǎo?
Do you have a computer?
Literally (you have not have computer)

你有没有去上海?
Nǐ yǒu méiyǒu qù shànghǎi?
Did you go to Shanghai?
(Literally: You have not have go to SH)

You can make ‘tag questions’ using the following

好不好?Is that ok?
是不是?Is that so?
对不对?Is that right?

You also make questions using 
’or’ 还是 (háishi)

你爱我还是他?
Nǐ ài wǒ háishi tā?
Do you love me or him?

你喜欢茶还是咖啡?
Nǐ xǐhuān chá háishi kāfēi?
Do you like to drink tea or coffee?