Do you have Chinese Tuition? = 你有没有华文补习吗?……!!!

Here are some examples of how a student asking a simple question in Chinese:-

  1. Student: 老师,你[S, (n.)]看不看 [V, (v.)]电影[O, (n.)]?{“Teacher, do you watch movies?”:}

    Me:  

  2. Student: 老师,今天[S, (n.)]有没有 [V, (v.)]口试[O, (n.)]?{“Teacher, is there oral exam today?”}

    Me:

  3. Student: 老师,今天[S, (n.)]吃不吃[V, (v.)]榴梿[O, (n.)]?{“Teacher, do you eat Durian?”}

    Me

If I were to say that the simplest form of a question for all languages is a “Yes-No” question, no one will disagree.

In Chinese, there are 2 ways of asking this type of question, either (a) ending with  吗 (må / ma) [a particle used at the end of questions], or (b) putting the positive and negative form of a verb/adjective together to form a question.

Before we go further, let’s learn about the basic form of sentence structure in Chinese.

The basic Chinese sentence structure is formed by 3 elements, S (Subject element), V (Verb element) and O (Object element).  Each element does not only contain 1 term, but it can also include a modifier of the element, e.g. an adjective or an adverb, or even a clause.

However, the order of these 3 elements will always be S -> V -> O.  There might be other secondary terms or elements that come in between, before or after the 3 of them, but their order should always be S -> V -> O.

So, let’s have a better look at the basic questioning form of the Chinese language.

(a) Type 1: [V(v.)] + 吗?{ending with a 吗 and a question mark}

For this basic question form, we add a “吗?” at the end of a sentence:  

Examples

Type 1: verbs

  1. “Do you watch movies?”:你[S, (n.)]看 [V, (v.)]电影[O, (n.)]吗?where “” is a verb

  2. Is there a Chinese test today?”:今天[S, (n.)] [V, (v.)]华文测验[O, (n.)]吗?where “” is a verb.  (note: “Is” is verb-to-be).

  3. Can I drink Coke?”:我[S, (n.)]可以 喝 [V, (v.)]可乐吗?where “可以” is a verb,

  4. “Do you want to eat breakfast?”:

    1. 你[S, (n.)] [V, (v.)]榴梿[O, (n.)]吗?(literally, it means “Do you eat durian?”)
    2. 你[S, (n.)]要 吃 [V, (v.)]榴梿吗?(literally, it means “Do you want to eat durian?”)

where “” & “” are verbs.

 

Type 2: adjectives

  1.  Are you happy today?:你[S, (n.)]今天开心 [adj.]吗?

  2. Is this dress pretty? 这件裙子[S, (n.)]漂亮[adj.]吗?I

(b) putting the positive and negative form of a verb/adjective together to form a question. (and remember to remove “吗”)

 

e.g. 有没有 (have or not), 来不来 (come or not), 可不可以/可以不可以 (can or not)

 

Hence, examples in (a) become

Type 1: verbs

  1. “Do you watch movies?”:你[S, (n.)]看不看 [V, (v.)]电影[O, (n.)]

  2. “Is there an oral exam today?”:今天[S, (n.)]考不考 [V, (v.)]口试[O, (n.)], 

  3. Is there a Chinese test today?”:今天[S, (n.)]有没有 [V, (v.)]华文测验[O, (n.)]

  4. Can you drink coffee?”:你[S, (n.)]可(以)不可以 [V, (v.)] 喝 [V, (v.)]咖啡

  5. “Do you want to eat breakfast?”:

    1. 你[S, (n.)]吃不吃 [V, (v.)]早餐[O, (n.)](literally, it means “Do you eat breakfast?”)
    2. 你[S, (n.)]要不要[V, (v.)] 吃 [V, (v.)]早餐(literally, it means “Do you want to eat breakfast?”)

where “” & “” are verbs.

In Singapore, we normally don’t ask 你早餐吗?as it seems to ask “Do you eat breakfast (at all)?”

Type 2: adjectives

  1.  Are you happy today?:你[S, (n.)]今天开(心)不开心 [adj.]

  2. Is this dress pretty? 这件裙子[S, (n.)]漂(亮)不漂亮[adj.]

So, the correct way to ask a (simple) question should be either one type of the followings:

OR

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