The differences between question particles ‘吗'(ma) and ‘呢'(ne)

’(ma) and ‘’(ne) are both located at the end of a sentence to form a question in Chinese.

 

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「吗」

(ma) is used to ask a general question (yes-no question). If you remove ‘’, the question will turn back to a statement.

 

Compare:

1. 你是美国人                       你是美国人。

     Nǐ shì Lǐ Xiānshēng ma?         – Nǐ shì Lǐ Xiānshēng.

     Are you American?                  You are American.

2. 你有咖啡                           你有咖啡。

     Nǐ yǒu kāfēi ma?                      -Nǐ yǒu kāfēi.

     Do you have coffee?                You have coffee.

3. 他吃饭了                            他吃饭了。                      

     Tā chīfàn le ma?                       -Tā chīfàn le.

     Has he eaten his dinner?         He has eaten his dinner.

4. 这里有邮局                        这里有邮局。

     Zhèlǐ yǒu yóujú ma?                 -Zhèlǐ yǒu yóujú.

     Is there a post office here?     There is a post office here.

 

 

 

「呢」

ne is mostly used to ask a special question, an alternative question, as well as a rhetorical question.

 

For example:

Rhetorical question

1. 你

     Nǐ ne?

     And you?

2. 你们都找到工作了,我呢?

     Nǐmen dōu zhǎodào gōngzuò le, wǒ ne?

     All of you have found jobs already, how about me?

3. 这些东西

     Zhèxiē dōngxi ne?

     What about these things?

 

In this kind of questions, ‘呢‘ is equivalent to saying ‘and…’, ‘how about…’, ‘what about…’ in English.

 

Special question

4. 你平常几点吃晚饭

     Nǐ píngcháng jǐdiǎn chī wǎnfàn ne?

     What time do you have supper?

5. 他今天回不回家

     Tā jīntiān huíbuhuí jiā ne?

     Will he go home or not today?

 

Alternative question

6. 你要咖啡还是茶呢?

     Nǐ yào kāfēi háishì chá ne?

     Do you want coffee or tea?

 

Sometimes if you remove ‘’, the sentence remains still a question (See example 4,5,6)

4. 你平常几点吃晚饭? = 你平常几点吃晚饭

Nǐ píngshí jǐdiǎn chī wǎnfàn? = Nǐ píngshí jǐdiǎn chī wǎnfàn ne?

What time do you have supper?

5. 他今天回不回家?= 他今天回不回家呢? 

Tā jīntiān huí bu huíjiā? = Tā jīntiān huí bu huíjiā ne?

Will he go home or not today?

6. 你要咖啡还是茶?= 你要咖啡还是茶

Nǐ yào kāfēi háishì chá? = Nǐ yào kāfēi háishì chá ne?

Do you want coffee or tea?

 

Hope it helps you!

Ling

Ling

Hi, I’m Ling, a Chinese tutor and a language learning amateur. I create this blog with a goal to help Mandarin learners and Chinese culture lovers to study and know about this language by self-learning. Welcome to visit me from time to time and give me your precious advice! Thank you! 😛

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