"Do you speak English?"

Translation:你说英语吗?

November 22, 2017

16 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Freezer965

Shouldn't this be 'ni hui shuo yingyu ma?' Without the 'hui' it doesn't ask for the ability to speak english.

November 22, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/varigby

'ni hui shuo yingyu ma is what you normally hear. Or ni hui shuo yingwen ma?

In Taiwan they sometimes say, ni hui shuo meiyu ma?

November 22, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/wyqtor
  • 1692

Or maybe the question is not about the ability to speak English, but whether you are speaking English right now (as opposed to, say, Chinese).

The English language does not make the distinction between these two situations.

November 24, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RicknRoll87

I would argue that if someone asks if what you're speaking is English the question would be "are you speaking english".

as in at this very moment, are the actual words coming out of your mouth English.

if you ask "do you speak english" i would always think youre asking for the general ability to speak

September 29, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TellTheSeal

I would agree, but I can imagine situations in which "Do you speak English?" is a question about habitual action, without addressing ability (albeit, perhaps assuming ability). For example:

"When you and your sister visit your Uncle in Canada, do you speak English?"
"When we are around him, yes; it would be rude not to include him in the conversation."

"When you teach that English 'immersion' class, do you speak English?"
"Yes, all the time: that's the difference between the regular English course and the English immersion course."

And now, some Chinese examples, using the very line from this exercise, but sometimes specifying "can you" rather than "do you" for contrast. Imagine a Chinese actor gets a brief speaking part in an American movie being shot in ShangHai; the actor's friend is surprised, and asks the actor if he speaks English: not if he can speak English, but simply if he does speak English for that line in the movie:
你说英语吗? (Do you speak English?)
说。我在电影说英文。(Yes. In the movie, I speak English.)
真的?可是,你会说英语吗? (Really? but, can you speak English?)
不会,可是,我明白我说什么。 (No, I can not, but, I understand what I say.)
你说什么? (What do you say?)
我说,(I say,) "Give us your suitcase, Mr. Lambert!"
意思是什么? (What is the meaning?)
意思是,"林拔先生,给我们你的行李!" (The meaning is, "Mr. Lambert, give us your luggage!")
所以,你不会说英语, 可是,你说英语吗? (So, you can not speak English, but, you do speak English?)
对: 我是一只鹦鹉。(Correct: I am a parrot.)

August 14, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Keith_APP

Although arguably not the best way to say it, this question is good for its purpose. In the English question, there is no 'ability' component either.

November 22, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PatrickTrentin88

Shouldn't this be accepted too? 你說不說英語

May 15, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SantaRPG

I know 你会不会说英语 is correct, but I dont know if you can do it with 说

June 4, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PatrickTrentin88

I thought I can do it with any verb.

June 5, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TellTheSeal

Yes: 你说不说英语 means, "Do you speak English?" The "verb not verb" pattern is another way of asking a "yes/no" question, an alternative to the "verb ... 吗“ pattern used in this exercise.

I believe SantaRPG's point may be that if you are using 会 (hui4) to mean, specifically, "Can you speak English?" then the "verb ... 吗” pattern of that question is 你会说英语吗, but the "verb not verb" pattern is 你会不会说英语 (rather than 你会说不说英语, which instead would mean something like "are you able to speak or not speak English?" or "is speaking English or not speaking English something you are able to do)?" In other words, the "verb not verb" pattern of "Can you speak English" would be "you can not can speak English" rather than "you can speak not speak English."

When using the "verb not verb" pattern, it is important to remember which verb to put on either end of 不. In your suggestion, of course, you simply used 说 (speak) as the only verb, by itself, rather than 会说 (can speak); therefore, 说不说 would be correct, as you suggested. However, had you wanted to use 会说, the correct "verb not verb" pattern would be 会不会说.

I hesitate to say this is "always" the case, but often, when two characters form a verb, the "verb not verb" form of a question using that verb applies to the first character only:

你知道吗? = Do you know? ("verb ... 吗" form)
你知不知道? Do you know? ("verb not verb" form)

August 14, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sidetabledrawr

Can someone explain the difference between yingyu and yingwen? I remember being taught to use wen but havent heard of yu

February 26, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Applespot

there's no difference, both 语( yu3) and 文 (wen4) essentially mean the same thing. Its more of a formality and preference difference in usage than meaning

May 2, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PatrickTrentin88

The distinct flavor of 語 is related to "speech" and "spoken language", whereas 文 is related to "written language".

Although people understand you if you use one in place of the other interchangeably, it would be most appropriate to use them according to their meaning.

May 2, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/shlomiabr

My answer got accepted without 吗 in the end? Is it correct?

November 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Keith_APP

It can be correct, but it will depend even more on your intonation and facial expression when you say it. You may appear like questioning the ability of the listener.

November 28, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/0gik1

This is just plain weird. Never heard anyone say that in Chinese; it has to have "会“。

January 22, 2018
Learn Chinese in just 5 minutes a day. For free.