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  5. "你的丈夫是不是美国人?"


Translation:Is your husband American?

December 10, 2017



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


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.


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


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


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").


Why is 'the American' not correct?


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


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


Agree. I just marked thatas should have been accepted


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


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


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.


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."


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


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


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)


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


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 !


Those are some really ingesting points you raise. Not sure this is the best place to discuss that, but I'd be really interested in joining that discussion if you find a better place to have it.


"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.


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


Native American, both are the same


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


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


using 吗 is easier right?


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


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


Or, 你的丈夫是美国人, 对吧?


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


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


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.


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


Where's the "ma" at the end?


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


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?


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.


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.


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?)


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


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


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


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?


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.


Why is it used in this sentence a double 是?


I had "an American"!


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.


"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?


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


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


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...


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?


Is your husband American or not?


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


Is your husband an American? is a correct ranslation.


A american and american is the same thing right!?


it's an American, not a American


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


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.


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

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