Saying ‘YES’ in Chinese with Emotions!

Many of my students used to ask me: do you have a general word for ‘Yes’ in Chinese? I thought for a while, then said: ‘Sorry, we don’t have.’

This is true. In Chinese, we don’t have a general word for ‘Yes’…So how do we express ‘YES’ if we want to answer a question in an easy way?  Nod our head or make a gesture of showing ‘OK’? …

No…To express ‘Yes’ in Chinese, you just need to repeat the same verbs or the adjectives as that in the questions.

For example:

1.    你忙吗?Nǐ máng ma?


2.   你是不是老师?Nǐ shì bu shì lǎoshi?


3.   你有兄弟姐妹吗?Nǐ yǒu xiōng dì jiě mèi ma?


4.   你要咖啡吗?Nǐ yào kāfēi ma?


Translations: Are you busy? – Are you a teacher? – Do you have brothers or sisters? – Do you want coffee?

Easy-peasy, right?

However, these kinds of sentences sound no any emotions to me, in other words, the answers are banal. Maybe you want to know, how could we turn these answers more Chinese (natural)?

Very easy, you just need to add a small modal particle after it, such as ‘啊’, ‘呀’, ‘吧’…It will totally change the feeling that you pass on to your recipient!

Don’t believe it?

Let’s see!

1. 你忙吗?Nǐ máng ma?

    Are you busy?

    • 忙。(no feeling) -Máng
    • 忙的。(Please don’t use it) -Máng de
    • 忙啊!(emphasise the fact) -Máng a!
    • 忙呀。(emphasise the fact) -Máng ya
  • 忙吧……(you are not sure if you are busy 😯 )  -Máng ba…

2. 你是不是老师?Nǐ shì bu shì lǎoshi?

    Are you a teacher?

    • 是。(no feeling) – Shì
    • 是的。(normal) – Shì de
    • 是啊~(relaxed) – Shì a
    • 是呀~ (cosy/how do you know?) – Shì ya
  • 是吧……(you are not sure if you are a teacher 😳 ) – Shì ba…

3. 你有兄弟姐妹吗?Nǐ yǒu xiōng dì jiě mèi ma?

    Do you have brothers and sisters?

    • 有。(no feeling) – Yǒu
    • 有的。(normal) – Yǒu de
    • 有啊~(relaxed) – Yǒu a
    • 有呀!(surprise/excited) – Yǒu ya
  • 有吧……?(you are not sure if you have brothers or sisters 😕 ) – Yǒu ba

4. 您要咖啡吗?Nín yào kāfēi ma?

    Do you want coffee?

    • 要。(no feeling) – Yào
    • 要的。(standard) – Yào de
    • 要啊。(Complaint: I’ve already told you, why you ask me again) – Yào a
  • 要吧……(you are not sure if you want or not 🙄 ) – Yào ba

*Don’t forget to thank the speaker after you accept the offer. 🙂


    • 好的,谢谢。(comfortable) – Hǎo de, xièxie
    • 好呀,谢谢。(surprise) – Hǎo ya, xièxie
  • 好啊,谢谢。(relaxed) – Hǎo a, xièxie

Other examples:

5. 我们去看电影,好吗?Wǒmen qù kàn diànyǐng, hǎoma?

    Shall we go to the cinema?

    • 好。(no feeling) – Hǎo
    • 好的。(serious) – Hǎo de
    • 好啊~(relaxed) – Hǎo a
    • 好呀!(excited) – Hǎo ya
  • 好吧……(you don’t have choice) – Hǎo ba

6. 晚上我们去外面吃饭,可以吗?Wǎnshàng wǒmen qù wàimiàn chīfàn, kěyǐ ma?

    Shall we eat out tonight?

    • 可以。(no feeling) Kěyǐ
    • 可以的。(normal) Kěyǐ de
    • 可以啊~(relaxed) Kěyǐ a
    • 可以呀! (happy) Kěyǐ ya!
  • 可以吧?(you are not sure) Kěyǐ ba?

7. 星期天我们去游泳,行吗?Xīngqī tiān wǒmen qù yóuyǒng, xíngma?

    Shall we go swimming on Sunday?

    • 行。(no feeling) xíng
    • 行的。(normal) xíng de
    • 行啊~(relaxed) xíng a
    • 行呀!(excited) xíng ya
  • 行吧……(you are not sure) xíng ba

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