"你们想不想去纽约?"

Translation:Do you want to go to New York?

May 7, 2018

19 Comments
This discussion is locked.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/rs_taylor

"Do you guys want to go New York?" seems like it should be accepted to me


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/colleend5

Shouldn't it say "Don't you want to go to new york?"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TellTheSeal

No; the given exercise translation is correct: 你们想不想去纽约? means "Do you want to go to New York?" - a positive question, not a negative question. If you want to say "Don't you want to go to New York?" in Chinese, you could use the translation that Imnuts7 provides: 你不想去纽约吗?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/YumeKuchik

How about你们想去纽约吗?Is it same as 你们想不想去纽约?

Why 不 is used even though it's a positive question?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TellTheSeal

Yes, these are simply 2 ways of asking the same, positive question:

你们想去纽约吗? = Do you want to go to New York?
你们想不想去纽约? = Do you want to go to New York?

Those are both positive questions, "do you..." rather than "don't you ..." in English. The negative version of those questions would be

你们不想去纽约吗? Don't you want to go to New York?

Notice that that negative form of the question is simply the statement, "You do not want to go to New York," followed by 吗, the binary interrogative particle. The positive form of the question that uses 吗 is formed the same way, but with the positive statement, "You want to go to New York" followed by 吗 tacked onto the end of it. Another way to ask this positive question is by applying 不 to the verb to present the same binary choice: 吗 refers to the entire preceding statement; 不 refers to the relevant verb, but the result is exactly the same.

As for why 不 is used, you might as well ask why is 吗 not used with that "Verb 不 Verb" form (and perhaps the answer is it would be redundant to use both); or why we use 没 with 有 but 不 with other verbs. Why can you ask the same question in English by using an auxiliary verb ("Do you want to go to New York?") or by simply adding a question mark or raising the pitch throughout the question ("You want to go to New York?"). Why is it this way? It is the way the language has developed. I am not saying that there is no explanation, or no reason, why this is how we speak Mandarin today; rather, I am simply saying that I, personally, do not know why these are two ways of asking the same question, or when, historically, or where, regionally, each form developed in the distant past (the "historical why," the "efficient cause"), or what these two functionally equivalent forms reveal about Chinese thought and culture (the "philological why," the "final cause"), but I do know that as a matter of fact well over a billion Chinese speakers really do speak this way. The question why is an interesting question, and my guess is that philologists, etymologists, and other linguistic scholars have investigated the matter, but I have never seen that research. If you find the answer, please, let us know what it is.

But maybe you do not mean "why" in this historical sense (as Aristotle's "efficient cause") or in the philological sense (the "final cause"). A merely "functional" sort of answer (sort of the "formal cause"), is that Chinese syntax is very "analytic:" the forms of words do not change or "inflect" as they do in less analytic languages; e.g., verbs generally do not conjugate with the subject, or change with the tense; nouns are generally not marked for singularity or plurality. In other languages, such formal changes convey syntactical relationships within a sentence, e.g., which word is the subject, which the verb, which the object, whether the sentence is a statement or a question, whether the sentence is declarative, conditional, or subjunctive, whether the sentence refers to the present, past, or future, whether the sentence describes a state of being or an ongoing action, and so forth. In many languages, the words themselves change to reflect such semantics, or, the meaning. In contrast, Chinese words are generally "static," like building blocks; they do not change, but the syntactical relationships among each semantic unit (each word) is conveyed through word order (the sequence of the "blocks") and grammatical particles (such as 了, 的, 不, 吗, 吧, 呢, 个, and so forth) that tie the words together, or reveal their function, or apply to the entire sentence. The question, 你们想去纽约吗? uses the interrogative particle, 吗; the question 你们想不想去纽约? uses the negative particle 不 instead, but if you choose to use the negative particle 不 instead of the interrogative particle 吗, then you must repeat the verb after 不; because, without repeating the verb, 你们想不去纽约?means "Do you want not to go to New York?" and 你们不想去纽约? means "Do you not want to go to New York?" or "Don't you want to go to New York?" To avoid those other meanings, you must repeat the verb after 不. The interrogative particle 吗 is often explained as the Chinese version of the question mark (as if 吗 = "?"), but that is not really what 吗 is; rather 吗 is an interrogative particle for binary questions only, that is, "affirmative or negative," "yes or no," "true or false," "will or won't," "did or did not," "is or is not" questions. There are other ways in Chinese to ask "open ended" questions, questions whose answers are not binary, questions such as "why," "where," "how," and so forth. So, 你们想去纽约吗? means something like, "You want to go to New York; please reply yes or no?" or "You want to go to New York: true or false?" or "You want to go to New York: T/F?" whereas 你们想不想去纽约? means something like "You do want, or do not want, to go to New York; please tell me which?" or "You do/don't want to go to New York?" Of course, as translations, those English sentences are awkward and problematic, and in other respects, a faulty explanation of the Chinese. For example, Chinese has no strict, single word equivalent of "yes" or "no;" people generally do not speak as if they are robots from 1950s science fiction movies or writing questions for a test in school or for an application form. Thus, a far better translation of either question is simply "Do you want to go to New York?" There is no sense complicating the translation by trying to reflect the "binary quality" of 吗 or literally translating 想不想 as "want don't want." The point is, you can put the binary question particle 吗 after whatever statement you want to turn into a question, or, you can present the same binary choice by stating the positive form of the verb (想) followed immediately by the negative form (不想) to indicate that same binary choice. Either way, you are using a particle to change the statement, "You want to go to New York," into a binary question; with 你们想去纽约吗? you are using the "binary interrogative particle 吗" at the end of the statement, and with 你们想不想去纽约?you are using the "negative particle 不" to make the relevant verb (想) binary, but whichever method you choose, the the question is the same, with the same tone, expectation, and positivity.

EDIT: I accidentally posted while composing a working draft, that is, before I finished.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Imnuts7

你不想去纽约吗?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JohnRachmi

What about "Would you guys want to go to New York?"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Gabriel127831

Do I understand the "want not want" is one of the way to ask questions in Chinese ,like: 我喜欢/不喜欢中国披萨? Do I like Chinese pizzas?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TellTheSeal

To ask an affirmative/negative "yes/no" question in Mandarin, you can use the "verb ... 吗“ form or the "verb 不 verb" form. In the case of compound verbs (verbs that require more than one character), often just the first character is "negated," e.g., to say "Do you know?" you can say 你知道吗? or you can say 你知不知道? You do not need to say 你知道不知道?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Gabriel127831

Merci beaucoup


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/IsaacLearning4

Isnt 想 "like to", should it be 要 to say want?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LydiaA.2413

As far as I know (and I could be completely wrong, so correct me if this is incorrect) they can be used interchangeably.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BasiaBojar

Why "Do you want to travel to New York?" is not okay? (I'm not native English speaker)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Hsn626796

Shouldn't this be " 你们要不要去纽约 ", people ?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AugustBate1

What's the difference? I put 想要 and got it wrong. What is the difference between 'want' and 'like'? I've thought 想 is 'enjoy/like', and 要 is 'want'?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/john27rg

Reported that "Are you thinking of going to New York?" should also be accepted.

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