"你的丈夫是不是美国人?"

Translation:Is your husband American?

December 10, 2017

89 Comments
This discussion is locked.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ant.H

Is there any difference in tone/formality/meaning between using 是不是 vs 吗 for yes/no questions?


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

There is no difference in tone, formality, or meaning between the "Verb 不 Verb" form and the "Verb ... 吗" form of a question: neither form is any more, or any less, polite or formal than the other; rather, they are simply two ways of asking a "yes/no" question.


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

No @TellTheSeal. Some Chinese native claim there is difference of nuance. 是不是 questions, as well as Verb 不 Verb questions, ask for conformation (you've expected the answer already). 吗 quesion is a simple and pure question on the contrary.


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

Interesting question. I'd like to find out the answer, too.


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

I like doulingo


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/I.masterbugoy

I think the difference is that是不是 is answerable with "yes, it is/no it's not"


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

Both the 是不是 form and the 是...吗 form can be answered with 是 ("yes, it is") or 不是 ("no, it is not").


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

shi bu shi = this is not


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

That would be "zhe bu shi"


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

Why is 'the American' not correct?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Tim85653

Since he isn't known everywhere as 'The American', for example as a famous nickname for this exact person.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Gabrielle145359

If the English were going to be "the American", I would use 那个美国人 or 这个美国人 in Chinese. Both of those add a certain amount of specificity over the general word American/美国人.


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

"Is your husband American" and "Is your husband an American" are totally equivalent in English. No distinction between them.


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

Agree. I just marked thatas should have been accepted


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Dennis385858

Still not accepted as at Nov 28th, 2018. I reported it.


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

I wouldn't say "totally" equivalent - but definitely close enough for Duolingo.


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

Why is "isn't" not accepted if there is 不是?


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

A better way to translate a question like "Isn't your husband American?" would be 你的丈夫不是美國人嗎? i.e. 不是...嗎 not 是不是. The negative statement is presented as the question.


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

In modern idiomatic English this question containing "isn't" means something like "To my knowledge your husband is American; now please confirm that that is true, if it is true, because I am not completely sure." So it does not literally mean: "Please confirm or deny the statement that your husband is not American." For didactic purposes, however, you may assume that the intended meaning of the Chinese question to be learnt is nonetheless: "Please confirm or reject the statement that your husband is not American."


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

yes.. that's a problem i faced too...


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

'is your husband an American' should be considered correct right?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/NasuSamaruk0

This is considered right if 個/个 is included. Translating your sentence, we have the following possibilities:

  • 你的丈夫是個美國人嗎?(Since the subject is singular, including only 個 includes "an")
  • 你的丈夫是一個美國人嗎?(Acceptable if you extend the sentence longer)
  • 你的丈夫是不是個美國人?
  • 你的丈夫是不是一個美國人?(Likewise, this is also acceptable with 一個)

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

Thanks to your explanation, I've also found out that 個 gè is the traditional form of counting word 个 gè, so that 個 is used mainly in Taiwan and Hong Kong, whereas 个 is used throughout the Mainland and all other Chinese-speaking regions.

It's also interesting that simplified 国 guó (country) has 玉 yù (jade) enclosed, whereas the traditional one, 國, has 或 huò (or) enclosed. I understand 或 is used as a phonetic component, whereas 玉 is used as a semantic component. I just can't figure how one evolved into the other. I'd like you to expand on this a bit. 谢谢


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

I'm very interested in hearing the answer to this, too. I can tell you that in Japanese, 王 means "king." He has a jewel, that's the part that makes it into 玉. (This part actually means "jewel" in Japanese, because it referred to what the king was holding. I can easily see how "jade" became a generic "jewel" when the character came to Japan.) Now, the king and his jewel live where? In a country or a kingdom. That's the 口 that surrounds the king and his jewel.

This is the story of the evolution of that character that I learned in school in Japan. So I am very curious to know when and how it evolved into the Japanese form. Did it evolve in China first and then go to Japan? I tend to think that this is not likely, since when were the simplified Chinese forms established? Is this one of those cases (like 電話)where the Japanese usage bounced back to China?

I really geek out about this sort of stuff so I am looking forward to hearing people's insight. 谢谢 !


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

Japanese doesn't matter here: both 王 and 玉 were originated in Chinese, and there is no difference (no change after borrowing). The difference between two letters are no Japanese invention, but from their original Chinese form c. 40th Century BC.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DR__4

"Is your husband an American" is how we would actually say this in English. At least in America. "Is your husband American" sounds a little bit awkward and unnatural. Don't get so caught up in literal translations please.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jwoodz86

As an American English speaker, I disagree. Either answer is very acceptable


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DR__4

Yeah you're spot on. What I meant to say is it's how I would say it, but yes both answers should be accepted. I see below they still haven't fixed it, which is a shame because this is the very question where my frustrations with Duolingo making you guess between multiple perfectly correct answers boiled over into uninstalling the app. I kept following this one discussion in hopes that they just hasn't had time to fix a lot of these, but more recent responses seem to indicate they still haven't, and I guess probably won't.


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

I recently discovered an extension for Firefox and Chrome that allows you to see (after you answer) all of the answers which are accepted. That can be particularly useful for questions like this which generate a lot of confusion/controversy. "Duolingo Solution Viewer"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/aimhof123

Native American, both are the same


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

"Is your husband an American?" sounds so unnatural.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/N.Mai

Is “你的丈夫是美国人吗?” acceptable too? Which way is more commonly used?


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

using 吗 is easier right?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/OleJohanne4

Why can't you say " is he not American" instead og "is he American" the chinese shi bu shi would lead to both version and the answers would be identical as well.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ClaudiaWei19

If you're using 是不是 "Your husband is American, isn't he?' should be accepted as an answer.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/rU00E4v

Wouldn't that be more like: 你的丈夫是美国人,是不是??


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

Or, 你的丈夫是美国人, 对吧?


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

What's with the two 是's? And it says 是不是 means 'whether'? I don't get the sentence. :(


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/roman2095

Read the tips and notes. It says that this is an alternative way of asking a question that has a yes/no answer (alternative to 吗 ma?)


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

oh you mean.. 是不是 is used instead of 吗 right?


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

The difference between being american and being an american:

An american is an entity that is american, it is singular at it is definite yet not specific.

Being american can be both singular and plural, it is not definite and can just as well mean your husband has american traits as in him being "american'y" if you will.

There is a grammatical difference even though may not make a big difference. Orders and counts have greater significance in many other languages, as does it in english.


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

well imma bit confused with 是不是.. can anyone please teach me what is meant by it? and when do we use it?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Erick.aqb

Yes... Please, can anyone help us with this. I have the same doubt.


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

Check the notes for this lesson https://www.duolingo.com/skill/zs/Family-2/tips

It is a very common pattern to ask a quesion by using the verb-not-verb structure: eg ...是不是... which literally means "are or are not". Another example would be 「你去不去?」 = "Are you going or not?"

It can certainly get more complicated than that, but important to learn this pattern.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Erick.aqb

Thank you very much. I had not seen it... certainly, it explains my doubt.


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

Where's the "ma" at the end?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ben939073

Because they use 是不是很 in this sentence. You don’t need a 吗 anymore. It would be double.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CarmenDiPi3

Why is it not Ni de zhangfu shi meiguo ren ma? And why is it shi bu shi??? Also, one of my books lists xiansheng as husband... do they both mean the same?


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

Regarding your first question: why does the sentence use the VERB 不 VERB form to make a question instead of adding 嗎? You should check the lesson notes and the other comments in this thread. It is an important structure to learn.

And your second question about ways to say “husband”: there are many ways including 丈夫、先生、老公 which are the most common. Which you choose depends on where you live and the formality of the situation. 丈夫 is probably the most generally applicable until you learn through experience the subtle differences.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CarmenDiPi3

Thanks for your reply! I see that you are also studying German. If you ever have specific questions, I could probably help as I am a native German speaker.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/GeraldWate3

"Is your husband not american?" although not as common, is a perfectly acceptable usage in contemporary English speech. Did you not know that?


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

I don't know why but I kind of associate "是不是" with "Est-ce que" in French, but in French it is a more polite way of asking a question. Is that the case in Chinese too?


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

In Chinese, the "Verb 不 Verb" form and the "Verb ... 吗" form are equally polite: neither form is any more, or any less, polite than the other; rather, they are simply two ways of asking a "yes/no" question.


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

Why is it used in this sentence a double 是?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ahmad505278

"Is your husband an American?" Why is it wrong?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Barry331764

Really this is wrong "is your husband an american. "


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/johnrjjj2008

Your husband is American? Wrong, guess have to change my placement of IS for the first time in months of this course and many others...


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Arn58929

Is your husband American or not?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Paul559695

I am confused why "Is your husband not American?" isn't correct.


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

是不是 is a positive question, not a negative one, even though it might look like one. The meaning conveyed cannot be "isn't it/s/he?". That would need to be "你的丈夫不是美国人吗?".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KevinAbel13

The character for husband often fools me. Usually the X in a character has to do with something female. Ta (woman) looks like this.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/the1best

I had "an American"!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/George792719

In English it is perfectly OK to say "is your husband an American". There is no difference between that and "is your husband American"

But don't write the former because you'll get marked wrong.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sue950221

"Is your husband an American?" is also a correct answer because it is the more "correct grammar."


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sue950221

Is your husband an American? is a correct ranslation.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sue950221

"Is your husband an American?" should also be correct.


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

Isn't this closer to asking "Isn't your husband American?" or "Is your husband not American?" These are not accepted, though...


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

This sentence has NOT in it... but the answer said it does not.


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

The Chinese question "是不是" is not generally to be translated to English with a NOT in it. It's a common way to ask a question in Chinese.


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

Can anybody explain the negative 不 in there? I expected "Isn't your husband American?" something like that. Could the 不 be omitted and leave the sentence with thr same meaning?


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

I'm a bit confused. What's the difference between 是 and 是不是, and would it still be gramatically correct if you replace 是不是 with 是?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Bill496592

Hmmm i don't want to be politically correct (or incorrect??)

My answer is always this. "Is your husband from the US?"

BECAUSE AMERICA IS NOT JUST THE US!!!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DR__4

I think that answer should be accepted too, because it is one of many ways we would communicate the exact idea. Although "American" is the only single-word noun I've ever heard to refer to someone who calls the US home.


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

AGREE! IT IS A WHOLE CONTINENT JESUS CHRIST, NOT A COUNTRY!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DR__4

Well it's two continents so....


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

AMERICA IS NOT A COUNTRY


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

You might be technically correct, however referring to the United States of America as simply "America" is extremely common, so much so as to be considered correct English. You might not like it, but consider that Wikipedia lists the demonym for an inhabitant of the United States of America as "American".


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

Duolingo shouldn't be suggesting that as the standard answer. It's denigrating towards other Americans. What are they, then? The standard answer should be US American and the other answer should just be an accepted one.


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

America is a continent, not a country. 美国 is the country, not the continent.


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

You might be technically correct, however referring to the United States of America as simply "America" is extremely common, so much so as to be considered correct English. You might not like it, but consider that Wikipedia lists the demonym for an inhabitant of the United States of America as "American".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/poopyfarts95

i listen to google translate of italian poop like 100 times


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

My answer must be accepted


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AlexanderH795268

A american and american is the same thing right!?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ben939073

it's an American, not a American


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dipto1002

Is your husband an US citizens? why it's incorrect


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/roman2095

That is not correct English.

You would have to say "Is your husband a US citizen?"

but I do not know if that is accepted as correct for this exercise.


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

A U.S. citizen would be correct, but not for this exercise.

Learn Chinese in just 5 minutes a day. For free.