"Are you American?"
Why is 'ma' at the end of thia question? Isn't it normally associated with 'what'?
吗 is the equivalent of a question mark and is used to form questions in Chinese from declarative sentences not containing a question word like 什么、谁、怎么、哪里 etc.
Ma is used as a question particle. Example in "你好" it means "Hello" or I am good but if you use "你好吗?" It becomes a question translating to "How are you?" So basically if I'm not wrong, if it's a question you have to add "ma" at the ending of the sentence.
Only yes or no questions use 吗. When you answer "好" to the question "你好吗?" You are answering in the affirmative, or saying "Yes, good." The negative would be "不好", or "Not good", or "No".
Using "Ma" is the equivalent to using "no?" at the end of a sentence. (eg. This is your house no?)