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Grammar: Questions

  1. Yes-no questions
  2. Question words

Yes-no questions

In Chinese there are two ways to change a statement into a yes-no question.

1) Adding a question particle to the end of the sentence

a 粤(question particle)
maa 普(question particle)
A)你識講廣東話Né̲i sīk góng gwóng.dūng.wa̲² a?Do you speak Cantonese?
B)你有筆Né̲i yá̲u bāt a?Do you have a pen?
C)佢走Ké̲ui jáu. a?Did he/she leave?
D)佢去中國Ké̲ui heui.gwo Jūng.gwok a?Has he/she been to China?

2) Repeating the verb by it's negated form

A)你識唔識講廣東話?Né̲i sīk m̲̀ sīk góng gwóng.dūng.wa̲²?Do you speak Cantonese?
B)你有筆?Né̲i yá̲u mó̲u bāt?Do you have a pen?

For past tense, the auxiliary verb is used, while the particle is omitted.

C)走?Ké̲ui yá̲u mó̲u jáu?Did he/she leave?
D)中國?Ké̲ui yá̲u mó̲u heui.gwo Jūng.gwok?Has he/she been to China?

Answer

In Chinese, there are no words for yes and no, but two ways to answer yes-no questions.

1) Repeating the verb

A)sīkYes, I do
A)講廣m̲̀ sīkNo, I don't
B)yá̲uYes, I have
B)mó̲uNo, I haven't
C)走咗jáu.jóYes, he/she did
C)冇走mó̲u jáuNo, she didn't
D)去過heui.gwoYes, he/she has
D)冇去過mó̲u heui.gwoNo, he/she hasn't

2) Using a replacement verb

ha̲iSo it is
deuiRight
唔係m̲̀.ha̲iIt isn't
(present tense/imperfect)
mó̲uIt wasn't
(past tense/perfect)

Question words

The question word is always in place of the unknown part of the sentence. So the word order doesn't change at all.

Exception: is placed on the end of the sentence.

what about

The final particle may be added to the question in order to emphase it.

你係邊度Né̲i ha̲i bīn.do̲u a?Where are you?

Cantonese 粤

乜嘢māt.yé̲what
话what
邊個bīn.gowho, which
邊度bīn.do̲uwhere
邊處bīn.syuwhere
幾時géi.sì̲²when
幾耐géi.no̲ihow long
幾耐…一次géi.no̲i ... yāt.chihow often
幾多géi.dōhow much, how many
點解dím.gáaiwhy
dímhow, how come (why)
點樣dím.ye̲unghow

Mandarin 普

什麼sa̲m.mōwhat
sè̲uiwho
哪個ná̲.gowhich
哪裡ná̲.lé̲uiwhere
什么時候sa̲m.mō sì̲.ha̲uwhen
多久dō.gáuhow long (time)
多久…一次dō.gáu ... yāt.chihow often
géihow much, how many (numbers up to 10)
多少dō.síuhow much, how many (larger numbers)
為什麼wa̲i.sa̲m.mōwhy
怎麼jám.mōhow, how come (why)
怎麼樣jám.mō.ye̲unghow