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Lesson 5 How to ask questions in Chinese (2)

Posted by Grace Feng on December 14, 2011

If you’ve followed my lessons to this far, the previous topic “How to ask questions in Chinese? (1)” might leave you wonder what if I want to ask questions that don’t have enough known information to structure as a statement first. Such as “W” questions in English. For example, questions as below:

What is your name?

Where is your baby sister?

When did you go home?

Which one is Beijing University?

How did your presentation go?

… …

Well, the strategy to structure the above questions in Chinese is still the same as it was in the previous lesson.

Turn the sentence into a statement, fill the unknown information with corresponding “W” or “H” words: what, where, when, which, how etc..

I’ll show you the way to do it in the following examples:

1) What is your name?

The process to form the sentence in Chinese is:

Your name is what. ==> Your name is what?

nǐ de míng zi shì shén me

你的名字是什么 ==> 你的名字是什么?

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Isn’t it straight forward enough? OK then, let’s learn a few new words first before we move on:

shén me nǎlǐ, nǎr shén me shí hòu
什么 (what) 哪里, 哪儿 (where) 什么时候 (when)
nǎ yī ge zěn me yàng míng zi
哪一个( which) 怎么样 (how) 名字 (name)
mèi mei zài Běi jīng
妹妹(younger sister) (at) 北京(Beijing)
dà xué bào gào
大学 (university) 报告 (presentation)

Please read out loud with the recording for a few times for each of the new words. Write them on paper with the help of estroke tool for a few times too until you can speak and recognize all of them without checking back on their pinyin or translation. Then move on …

  • You can copy and paste a few characters together into the box. They’ll show in the animation window one by one.
  • Once the stroke animation stops, click in the animation window and hit ENTER to replay it.
  • You can use the sliding bar to control writing speed of the animation.

Once you’ve passed the “new words” phrase, please go on with the rest of the examples (each uses one “W” or “H” word). Pay attention to the top sentence that is written in English, but in Chinese word order.

2) Where is your baby sister?

Your baby sister is where. ==> Your baby sister is where?

nǐ de mèimei zài nǎlǐ

你的妹妹在哪里. ==> 你的妹妹在哪里?

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

 

3) When did you go home?

You when went home. ==> You when went home?

nǐ shén me shí hou huí de jiā

什么时候回的家. ==> 你什么时候回的家?

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

 

4) Which one is Beijing University?

Which one is Beijing University. ==> Which one is Beijing University?

nǎ yī ge shì Běi jīng Dà xué

哪一个是北京大学. ==> 哪一个是北京大学?

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

 

5) How did your presentation go?

Your presentation went how. ==> Your presentation went how?

nǐ de bào gào zěn me yàng

你的报告怎么样. ==> 你的报告怎么样?

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

In brief, for “W” questions in Chinese, just simply replace the unknown word with “W” or “H” word and add a question mark to the end of the sentence.

I’ll show you how many “W” or “H” words in Chinese you need to know to form these type of questions. Again, they are only a few, I’d suggest you to memorize the following basic mapping list, so they’ll become handy when your smart brain cells need to reach them.

What – 什么
where – 哪里, 哪儿
when – 什么时候
which – 哪一个
how – 怎么样

 

Enough of questions. Hope you’re not overwhelmed so far. Now let’s have some take-away for today’s lesson. Please use google or any search engine you like to search for the above “W” or “H” words in Chinese. See whether you can figure out what is being asked. You can use an online dictionary to help you translate the Chinese words in the question.

Again, repeat with the recording for as many times as you could. See if you can create some “W” questions in Chinese with the help of online dictionary. You’re welcomed to paste the questions you created in your comment too!

Enjoy your Christmas shopping and see you soon!

 

Related posts:

Lesson 27 How to use “Let ...” sentence patterns in Chinese
Lesson 28 How to express "used to do ..." in Chinese?
Reading, Listening and Speaking practice 19

 

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21 Responses to “Lesson 5 How to ask questions in Chinese (2)”

  1. nothing

    Ryan:

    11-15-2014 3:53 pm

    Bing Responses:
    什么时候? 北京时间– When? Bejing time

    哪一个的个人主页- Which person’s homepage. (Homepage was new word for me)

    How often do you think a person learning a new language should practice for daily?
    How often should I start doing a new lesson. I feel like a new lesson every night might be too much.

    Reply

    • nothing

      Grace Feng:

      11-16-2014 5:32 am

      How often do you think a person learning a new language should practice for daily?

      As often as possible of course. :-)
      However, that’s not practical in most cases. Then my answer is, “minimum half a hour daily if you don’t want to lose it.” If you can spare one to two hours daily practicing on it, you should be able to progress well. Again, how you practice it also matters.

      How often should I start doing a new lesson. I feel like a new lesson every night might be too much.

      Some lessons are easier, some are more difficult. It’s not easy to suggest a regular pace. I think as long as you completely understand the previous lesson and are comfortable in using the new knowledge in your own practice, you can go to the next. Through these lessons, you’ll learn the skeleton of the language, but not the meat. Skeleton only helps you understand how the sentences are structured. You need to taste the “meat” through lots and lots of reading, listening and speaking practice. If you’re concentrate enough, you can grasp the structure in a short period of time. It’ll offer you a solid foundation to expand your study in reading, listening and speaking. A later stage is to get familiar with all the variations that derived from the basic structure.

      Reply

  2. nothing

    Ryan:

    11-19-2014 3:04 pm

    谢谢你! My biggest problem is pace. I tend to overdo things.

    Reply

  3. nothing

    Ryan:

    11-20-2014 3:35 pm

    I’m practicing forming new sentences. Can you look at these and check to see if they are formed and translated correctly? Thanks again!

    你的名字是什么–What is your name?
    他的市场在哪里- His market is where?
    我们什么时候在餐馆- We are at the restaurant when?
    哪一个人是他的妹妹– Which is your their sister?
    你的太太怎么样- How is your wife?

    Reply

    • nothing

      Ryan:

      11-20-2014 3:38 pm

      to clarify the fourth one is: which is their sister?

      Reply

    • nothing

      Grace Feng:

      11-20-2014 6:51 pm

      Everyone else is correct, except a little fix in this one:

      哪一个人是他(们)的妹妹– Which is their sister?

      Reply

      • nothing

        Ryan:

        11-22-2014 5:15 pm

        谢谢。 我认识. of course, I for got to pluralize

        Reply

  4. nothing

    Bao:

    12-18-2014 11:50 pm

    Congratulation. It s great to be here. Love it. But it will be best if your website has a canvas where we can handwrite and post comments on … And practice new words. Sorry it is just an idea.

    Reply

    • nothing

      Grace Feng:

      12-24-2014 4:41 am

      Hi Bao, that’ll be a good idea to add a handwrite canvas. But I don’t know how. :-(

      I actually use the handwriting input on iPad every day. Guess it’ll be of help to learners if you have one. Android and other tablets have that function as well.

      Thanks for your advice,

      Grace

      Reply

  5. nothing

    YRabbit:

    05-19-2015 3:49 am

    Grace,你好!
    这是错误吗?
    “You baby sister is where. ==> The baby sister is where?”

    You(r) baby sister is where. ==> [The] (Your) baby sister is where?

    Reply

    • nothing

      Grace Feng:

      05-20-2015 4:20 am

      是错误, 谢谢你帮我检查。 :-)

      Now it’s updated. Thanks YRabbit!

      Grace

      Reply

  6. nothing

    Mary:

    09-10-2015 1:18 pm

    1) 她的名字是什么?What is her name?
    2) 你的爸爸在哪里?Where is your father?
    3) 你什么时候学汉语?When did you learn Chinese?/When do you learn Chinese?
    4) 那一个人是你的妈妈?Which one is your mother?
    5) 你的家怎么样?How is your family?

    Kindly correct my sentences. Thank you so much for the platform

    Reply

    • nothing

      Grace Feng:

      09-10-2015 5:14 pm

      Mary, see answer below:

      1) 她的名字是什么?What is her name?
      2) 你的爸爸在哪里?Where is your father?
      3) 你什么时候学汉语?When did you learn Chinese?/When do you learn Chinese?
      4) 那(哪)一个人是你的妈妈?Which one is your mother?
      5) 你的家(人)怎么样?How is your family?

      Very good work, Mary! 再接再厉!

      Grace

      Reply

      • nothing

        Mary:

        09-14-2015 10:08 am

        谢谢Grace!我很高兴.

        Reply

  7. nothing

    Will:

    07-05-2016 9:58 am

    related to sentence 2)

    I’d say 你的妹妹是在哪里? instead of 你的妹妹在哪里?

    Why can I leave out the verb “to be”? Why do I not need to put shi in that sentence??

    Does anyone know?

    I would also translate Where are you? to Ni shi nali? instead of Ni zai nali? or Ni shi zai nali?

    best regards

    Reply

    • nothing

      Grace Feng:

      07-06-2016 1:21 am

      Hi Will, in Chinese, “is” is not needed in many cases. You just need to get used to it I guess. :-)

      Grace

      Reply

  8. nothing

    Will:

    07-05-2016 10:10 am

    Hi ,

    why is there a “de” in here: 你什么时候回的家?

    Isn’t 你什么时候回家? correct as well?

    Best regards

    Reply

    • nothing

      Grace Feng:

      07-06-2016 1:19 am

      Hi Will, both are correct. Adding “的” is more oral, also implie that “you are home already”. Without “的", it equals “When will you come home?”

      Does this help?

      Grace

      Reply

      • nothing

        Will:

        07-12-2016 9:01 am

        Yes thank you very much Grace?

        Which Translate Programm would you recommend me? Is there anything else other than google?

        Will

        Reply

        • nothing

          Grace Feng:

          08-05-2016 3:35 am

          Hi Will, sorry to reply to you so late. I’ve just came back from a long vacation.

          For translator, it’s really not easy to find a close-to-human-level one to be honest. Some people recommend “CC Smart Eye – Live Text Translator” for its mobile capture functionality. Google translate is not bad for words and phrases. When it comes to sentences, things become challenging. :-)

          Sorry can’t help you much on this.

          Grace

          Reply

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