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  5. "Are they Chinese?"

"Are they Chinese?"


January 10, 2018



why do some times i need ma but other times i dont need it to ask a question?


吗 (ma3) is used to indicate a yes/no question (i.e., a question that is answered by 'yes' or 'no'). Basically, take a statement and add 吗 at the end and it becomes a question as to whether that statement is true or false.

For yes/no questions, you can use an alternate structure that repeats the verb along with a negation. This structure makes the 吗 redundant.

Here are some examples of what this means in practice:

她们是中国人。They are Chinese. (statement of fact)

她们是中国人? Are they Chinese? (yes/no question)

她们是不是中国人? Are they Chinese? (also yes/no question)

Questions that are not yes/no questions typically have a question word (e.g., 谁 (shei2, who), 哪里 (na3li3, where), 什么 (shen2me, what) to act as a placeholder noun. These replace the subject or object in the statement sentence, for example

她是?Who is she?

她是我妹妹。She is my younger sister.

This is really complicated and something Duolingo does not teach well, so I would recommend looking into serious grammar books, if you're really interested in learning about the grammar.


I think of ma as "is that correct?" Or "right?" So, you take a statement, and add ma at the end to turn a statement into a yes/no question.


Thanks; I was coming here to ask this too. I think this answer is rather important.


I'm sorry I can't give you ingots for your comment anymore


Thanks for this! But when is 多少 used then? Cause when asking for a phone number duolingo uses 多少 is in that example 什么 then also correct?


hey, thank you a lot, hope you're still learning :') good vibes


This sentence is a good example of the limitations of the English language. With Mandarin, you can see they are a group of females, whereas in English you wouldn't immediately know the gender of the group "they."


Well nowadays it's often better not to assume


explain to me how that works


What do you want to know? Sentence structure? Asking questions?

  1. Subject (Plural) - They
  2. Verb - Are (comes first in English with interrogatives)
  3. Adjective - Chinese
  4. Nominative - people
  5. Interrogative (implies a request for knowledge).


i agree -_- Why are there two?


ok I get it now! Thanks for... being there. :)


Also correct for specificity of describing the subjects, using 都:

  • 他們都是中國人嗎?
  • 她們都是中國人嗎?


Duolingo does not teach the character "都“ in this lesson.


I'm having problems to pronounce 'rén'. How is it really pronounced? Like 'hun'?


Is "shì (是)" a conjecture? Im so confused on the appropriate use of 是, is it always added after the pronoun?


”是“ is like a linking verb. It acts as the English equivalent of "to be." Forms of "to be" are "is, are, am."


It's telling me to "write this in Chinese." I'm writing the pinyin because I don't have a Chinese keyboard plugin, and it's telling me it's wrong. Sheesh.


How to get 吗 in cangjie keyboard, i only get 马?

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