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  5. "Do you understand what the t…

"Do you understand what the teacher is talking about?"


December 19, 2017



Why is there a need for 在 in this sentence?


Because the teacher "is speaking", not "says".


Yeah, but if I was in a class and whispering to my friend, I would not necessarily add the 在. In the context, it would be understood that I would be asking about what the teacher was talking about. Actually, I'd just ask, "老师说什么?"


Duolingo couldn't possibly allow for all variations in all contexts - it's hard enough to account for all of the strictly correct variations. So in this course, English present progressive seems to be correlated with 在 in front of the verb in Chinese. Just the way it has been in this course so far.


Why does the ma need to be added at the end


It's a yes/no question. So you need to use 吗. If it's not, you won't need it.

This can lead to some tricky sentences for a Chinese beginner:

老师在说什么? What does the teacher say?

老师在说什么吗?Is the teacher saying something?


To indicate that the speaker is asking a question.


It makes it a question. If you said it without the ma but used the right infection for a question, it would be understood as a question but has an implication that it is unexpected that you would understand.

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