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  5. "Do they buy rice at the supe…

"Do they buy rice at the supermarket?"


November 22, 2017



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?


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.


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.


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


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.

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