Translation:Is your husband American?
"Is your husband American" and "Is your husband an American" are totally equivalent in English. No distinction between them.
Is there any difference in tone/formality/meaning between using 是不是 vs 吗 for yes/no questions?
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.
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)
- 你的丈夫是不是一個美國人？(Likewise, this is also acceptable with 一個)
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
If you're using 是不是 "Your husband is American, isn't he?' should be accepted as an answer.
What's with the two 是's? And it says 是不是 means 'whether'? I don't get the sentence. :(
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?)
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.
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.
"Is your husband an American?" is also a correct answer because it is the more "correct grammar."
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?