"Are they Chinese?"


January 10, 2018



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

February 5, 2018


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.

April 20, 2018


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.

July 16, 2018


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

August 13, 2018


explain to me how that works

January 10, 2018


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

January 20, 2018


i agree -_- Why are there two?

January 24, 2018


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

January 24, 2018

  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).
May 27, 2018


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?
July 28, 2018
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