吗 vs 么

I was wondering when to use ma vs me and if there is any guidelines? For example, I thought it would be 你叫什吗 not 你叫什么。 But it is also 你好吗 not 你好么

Thanks in advance

June 21, 2018


什么 is a word in its own right, meaning "what?" as in "what is your name?" (你叫什么). Literally, that's you-你 areCalled-叫 what-什么. Unlike English (or, for that matter, French), Chinese does not change the order of words around when asking a question.

吗 is a particle (we don't have a lot of these in English) that turns a sentence into a yes-no question. For example, 你要咖啡 is literally you-你 like-要 coffee-咖啡. If you add the 吗 particle, it becomes 你要咖啡吗, which translates to "Do you like coffee?"

That makes complete sense, thanks. I wish my book would have just explained it like that

Related Discussions

Learn Chinese in just 5 minutes a day. For free.