"Do they buy rice at the supermarket?"


November 22, 2017

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Chinese members of my family always refer to 大米 when they talk about (uncooked) rice. It avoids confusion with 玉米 (sweetcorn) and 小米 (millet).


Came here to say this very thing.


Shouldn't 米饭 also be acceptable here?


米饭 is used when speaking of cooked rice. 大米 is used to refer to the uncooked grains of rice, like what you might buy at the store.


Not always. Firstly cooked rice not always available at supermarket, and people more often buy rice for cooking at supermarket. It always up to the context.


I feel like the translation for this should be 他们买米在超市吗。 Meaning more towards the regular activities of buying rice while 他们在超市买米吗 is more towards where they are now.


I can see what you're thinking, but Mandarin syntax demands that the location come before the action.


Thanks, was looking for exactly this answer!


I hv that answer and was marked wrong.


Exactly my thinking. This sentence suggests, "Are they at the supermarket buying Rice?" While the english translation gives the sense of regularity of them buying rice at the supermarket.


What’s the most natural way of asking: are they buying rice at the supermarket (right now)? Should we add 正 - 他们正在超市买米吗?Or would the Duolingo translation apply to that situation too?


There are two ways to express right now: 现在 and 正在. The difference between the two is somewhat nuanced, and some people use them interchangeably, but 现在 generally means "now" and 正在 emphasizes at the very moment.

Your sentence is almost correct, but you'll need to add a second 在 because both characters in 正在 belong together to express time (right now), and the second 在 expresses the location (at the supermarket): 他们正在在超市买大米吗?


How come you can't use 买不买 in this sentence?


Technically you could, but it really isn't done that way. Think of the structure X 不 X sort of like "do or do not" in English: "Do they, or do they not, buy rice in the supermarket?" In certain conditions you would ask the question that way (say, trying to establish the facts), but the question as stated is more like, "So, do they buy the rice at the supermarket?" (as opposed to somewhere else).


Wow, thanks for the quick answer. I understand now


Looking for yes or no answer.


....or do they buy it somewhere else? I can't help but think that, translating from the Mandarin to English, it would make more sense to say "Are they buying rice at the supermarket" or "Are they at the supermarket to buy rice?" rather than "Do they buy rice at the supermarket?" (There is quite a difference in meaning.) Maybe a native Mandarin speaker could comment.....

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