How to ask basic questions in Chinese


Many Chinese learners are told that “ma(吗)” is used at the end to form a question. However, this statement is not always correct even when creating basic questions.

“Ma(吗)” needs to be added at the end of a yes-no question only. For questions like “Where are you?”, “What time is it?”, there is no need to add “ma(吗)”.

Let’s have a look at some examples:


EnglishChinese PinyinChinese Character
Do you like Shanghai?nǐ  xǐ huān  shàng hǎi  ma?你喜欢上海吗?
Does he have a Chinese name?tā  yǒu  zhōng wén  míng zì  ma?他有中文名字吗?
Where are you?nǐ  zài  nǎ lǐ?你在哪里?(“ma(吗)” is not needed in this case as this is not a yes-no question.)

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