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Level 3 Lesson 9.2 – 这件事跟你有关系吗?

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GRAMMAR: 反问句 Rhetorical Questions in Chinese - 1.……吗?; 2.没……吗?; 3.还……?; 4.不是……吗?

In this HSK 3 video lesson we'll learn when and how to say Rhetorical Questions in Chinese with four structures.

  • Questions vs. Rhetorical Questions 疑问句 vs. 反问句
  • Four types of Yes-no Rhetorical Questions in Chinese
    • ……吗?
    • 没……吗?
    • 还……?
    • 不是……吗?

GRAMMAR


Comparison: 汉语疑问句 vs. 反问句

Hànyǔ Yíwènjù vs. Fǎnwènjù ▸ Questions vs. Rhetorical Questions in Chinese

 

疑问句 vs. 反问句

In Chinese, 疑问句 (Yíwènjù ▸ Questions) are to raise a question and to expect an answer. While 反问句 (Fǎnwènjù ▸Rhetorical Questions) are to produce an effect or to make an assertion without expecting an answer.

 

Types of 疑问句

There are four types of 疑问句 in Chinese:

  • 是非问句 (Shìfēi Wènjù ▸ Yes-no Questions)
  • 特指问句 (Tèzhǐ Wènjù ▸ Wh- Questions)
  • 正反问句 (Zhèngfǎn Wènjù ▸ Affirmative-negative Questions)
  • 选择问句 (Xuǎnzé Wènjù ▸ Alternative Questions)

 

Types of 反问句

There are also four types of 反问句 in Chinese:

  • 是非问句反问句 (Shìfēiwènjù Fǎnwènjù▸Yes-no Rhetorical Questions)
  • 特指问句反问句 (Tèzhǐwènjù Fǎnwènjù▸Wh- Rhetorical Questions)
  • 正反问句反问句 (Zhèngfǎnwènjù Fǎnwènjù▸Affirmative-negative Rhetorical Questions)
  • 选择问句反问句 (Xuǎnzéwènjù Fǎnwènjù▸Alternative Rhetorical Questions)

 

Four Types of 是非问句反问句

In this lesson, we will be focusing on the first type of 反问句, which is 是非问句反问句, and there are four structures:

  • .……吗?
  • 没……吗?
  • 还……?
  • 不是……吗?

 

Grammar 1. ……吗?

……ma?▸ Asking Yes-no Rhetorical Questions In Chinese with ……吗?

(1) Structure

For this structure, the Rhetorical Questions can be "asked" in three ways:

  • ……吗? the Rhetorical Questions is "asked" by the 疑问词 (Yíwènjcí ▸ Question Word) "吗" and marked with a 问号 (Wènhào ▸ Question Mark)
  • ……吗! the Rhetorical Questions is "asked" by the 疑问词 "吗" and marked with a 感叹号 (Gǎntànhào▸ Question Mark)
  • ……? the Rhetorical Questions is "asked" by a rising tone without a 疑问词, but is marked with a 问号

For example,

Zhè jiàn shì gēn nǐ yǒu guānxì ma?
这件事跟你有关系吗?
This “jian” (of) thing (-) (does it) have relationship with you?

Zhè jiàn shì gēn nǐ yǒu guānxì ma!
这件事跟你有关系吗!
This “jian” (of) thing (-) (does it) have relationship with you?

Zhè jiàn shì gēn nǐ yǒu guānxì?
这件事跟你有关系?
This “jian” (of) thing (-) (does it) have relationship with you?

 

More example sentences:

Fàng zhème duō táng bú huì tài tián le (ma)
放这么多糖不会太甜了吗?
放这么多糖不会太甜了吗!
放这么多糖不会太甜了?
Putting this much sugar will not (be) too sweet?

tā zhèyàng zuò, nǐ bù shēng qì (ma)
他这样做,你不生气吗?
他这样做,你不生气吗!
他这样做,你不生气?
He did (it) “(like) this”, you (are) not upset?

nǐ shuō nǐ lèi, wǒ bù xīnkǔ (ma)
你说你累,我不辛苦吗?
你说你累,我不辛苦吗!
你说你累,我不辛苦?
You say you (are) tired, I (am) not going-through-hardship?

wǒmen shì yìqǐ zhǎngdà de, guānxì néng bù hǎo (ma)
我们是一起长大的,关系能不好吗?
我们是一起长大的,关系能不好吗!
我们是一起长大的,关系能不好?
(It) was together (that) we grow up, (our) relationship can be bad?

 

(2) Purpose and Meaning

The purpose of these Rhetorical Questions, is not to get an answer, their purpose is to produce an effect or to make an assertion.

Let's see the real meaning behind each Rhetorical Question:

  • Fàng zhè me duō táng bú huì tài tián le ma?
    放这么多糖不会太甜了吗?
    Putting this much sugar will not (be) too sweet?
  • Wǒ jué de ) fàng zhè me duō táng huì tài tián le.
    (我觉得)放这么多糖会太甜了。
    (I think that) putting this much sugar will (be) too sweet.

 

  • Tā zhèyàng zuò,nǐ bù shēng qì ma!
    他这样做,你不生气吗!
    He did (it) “(like) this”, you (are) not upset?
  • (Wǒ jué de) tā zhèyàng zuò,nǐ yīng gāi shēngqì
    (我觉得)他这样做,你应该生气。
    (I think that) he doing (it) “(like) this”, you should be upset.

 

  • Nǐ shuō nǐ lèi, wǒ bù xīnkǔ?
    你说你累,我不辛苦?
    You say you (are) tired, I (am) not going-through-hardship?
  • Nǐ shuō nǐ lèi, (dàn wǒ juéde) wǒ yě hěn xīn kǔ.
    你说你累,(但我觉得)我也很辛苦。
    You say you (are) tired, (but I think that) I (am) also going-through-hardship.

 

Grammar 2. 没……吗?

méi......ma? ▸ Asking Yes-no Rhetorical Questions In Chinese with 没……吗?

 

(1) Structure

For this structure, the 否定词 (Fǒudìngcí ▸ Negative Word) 没 and 疑问词 (Yíwèncí ▸ Question Word) are used together to ask the Yes-no Rhetorical Question.

For example,

  • Nǐ yǒu wèntí de shíhou, wǒ méi bāng nǐ ma?
    你有问题的时候,我没帮你吗?
    When you had problem(s), I (did) not help you?
  • Nǐ méi tīngjiàn diànshì li shuō ma? Míngtiān yào xià dà xuě.
    你没听见电视里说吗?明天要下大雪。
    You (did) not hear (the) TV say? Tomorrow (it) will snow-heavy-snow.
  • Wǒ méi gàosu nǐ ma? Kèrén diǎn de shì hēi kāfēi, bú fàng táng.
    我没告诉你吗?客人点的是黑咖啡,不放糖。
    I (have) not told you (before)? (The one the the) guest ordered is black coffee, not put sugar.

Be careful that this type of Yes-no Rhetorical Questions can sound  impolite or even extremely impolite. For example the following sentences:

  • Zhè dào tí lǎoshī méi jiāo guo ma? Nǐ yòu zuòcuò le!
    这道题老师没教过吗?你又做错了! impolite
    This “dao” (of) test-question (-) (the) teacher (has) not taught (you before)? You again did (it) wrong!
  • Nǐ méi zhǎng yǎnjing ma? Chē lái le!
    你没长眼睛吗?车来了! very impolite
    You (have) not grown eyes? (The) car is coming!
  • Méi chī guo fàn ma? Chī nàme duō!
    没吃过饭吗?吃那么多! very impolite
    (You have) not eaten (a) meal (before)? (You’re) eating that much!
  • Bié kàn le! Méi jiàn guo piàoliàng nǚháir ma?
    别看了!没见过漂亮女孩儿吗? sarcastic
    Stop looking! (You have) not seen pretty girl(s) (before)?

 

(2) Purpose and Meaning

The  "没……吗?" structure uses a negative form to emphasize “affirmation”, to remind the listener that the situation already is or indeed had been a certain way.

Let's see the real meaning behind each Rhetorical Question:

  • Nǐ yǒu wèntí de shíhou, wǒ méi bāng nǐ ma?
    你有问题的时候,我没帮你吗?
    When you had problem(s), I (did) not help you?
  • Nǐ yǒu wèntí de shíhou, wǒ bāng guo nǐ.
    你有问题的时候,我帮过你。
    When you had problem(s), I (did) help you.

 

  • Nǐ méi tīngjiàn diànshì li shuō ma? Míngtiān yào xià dà xuě.
    你没听见电视里说吗?明天要下大雪。
    You (did) not hear (the) TV say? Tomorrow (it) will snow-heavy-snow.
  • Nǐ tīngjiàn diànshì li shuō guo, míngtiān yào xià dà xuě.
    你听见电视里说过,明天要下大雪。
    You (did) hear (the) TV say, (that) tomorrow (it) will snow-heavy-snow.

 

Grammar 3. 还……?

hái......? ▸ Asking Yes-no Rhetorical Questions In Chinese with 还……?

(1) Structure

We can use 副词 (Fùcí ▸ adverb) "还" to ask a Yes-no Rhetorical Questions. For example,

  • Zhème wǎn le, nǐ hái méi qǐchuáng?
    这么晚了,你还没起床?
    (It is) this late (already), you still (have) not gotten up (from) bed?
  • Wǒ fàng le nàme duō táng, hái bù tián?
    我放了那么多糖,还不甜?
    I (have) put that much sugar, (it is) still not sweet?
  • Wǒ dōu gēn nǐ shuō le duìbuqǐ le, nǐ hái kū?
    我已经跟你说了对不起了,你还哭?
    I already said sorry to you, you (are) still crying?

 

(2) Purpose and Meaning

还 here emphasizes "不应该(不应该 ▸ should not; ought not to)". For example,

  • Zhème wǎn le, nǐ hái méi qǐchuáng?
    这么晚了,你没起床?
    (It is) this late (already), you still (have) not gotten up (from) bed?
  • Zhème wǎn le, nǐ bù yīnggāi hái méi qǐchuáng.
    这么晚了,你不应该没起床。
    (It is) this late (already), you should not (have) not gotten up (from) bed.

 

  • Wǒ fàng le nàme duō táng, hái bù tián?
    我放了那么多糖,不甜?
    I (have) put that much sugar, (it) still (is) not sweet?
  • Zhème wǎn le, nǐ bù yīnggāi hái méi qǐchuáng.
    我放了那么多糖,不应该不甜。
    I (have) put that much sugar, (it) should not (be) not sweet.

 

Grammar 4. 不是……吗?

bú shì ......ma? ▸ Asking Yes-no Rhetorical Questions In Chinese with 不是……吗?

We can use this structure to say that A and B are the same, or A is the same as B. Here A and B can be a noun (phrase), a verb (phrase), a prepositional (phrase), etc.

For example,

 

(1) Structure

  • Nǐ bú shì gēn tā guānxì tèbié hǎo ma? Tā yīnggāi bú huì shēng nǐ de qì.
    你不是跟他关系特别好吗?他应该不会生你的气。
    Isn’t (it that) you with him (-) (the) relationship (is) very good? He “being highly likely” will not get upset at you.
  • Wǒ bú shì yǐjīng fàng le yán le ma? Nǐ yòu fàng le ma?
    我不是已经放了盐了吗?你又放了吗?
    Wasn’t (it that) I already put salt? (Did) you again put (some)?
  • Mén bú shì guān shàng le ma? Nǐ shì zěnme jìn qu de?
    门不是关上了吗?你是怎么进去的?
    Isn’t (it that) (the) door/gate (has been) closed-“with-a-successful-result”? How was (it that) you went in?

 

(2) Purpose and Meaning

In these sentences, the part between 不是 and 吗 is the focus information, which is an obvious fact.

The speaker uses "不是……吗?"

  1. to draw attention to this obvious fact, and
  2. to emphasize affirmation

For example,

  • Nǐ bú shì gēn tā guānxì tèbié hǎo ma? Tā yīnggāi bú huì shēng nǐ de qì.
    你不是跟他关系特别好吗?他应该不会生你的气。
    Isn’t (it that) you with him (-) (the) relationship (is) very good? He “being highly likely” will not get upset at you.
  • Nǐ gēn tā guānxì tèbié hǎo ma, tā yīnggāi bú huì shēng nǐ de qì.
    你跟他关系特别好,(所以)他应该不会生你的气。
    (It is obvious that) you with him (-) (the) relationship (is) very good, (therefore) he “being highly likely” will not get upset at you.

 

  • Wǒ bú shì yǐjīng fàng le yán le ma? Nǐ yòu fàng le ma?
    我不是已经放了盐了吗?你又放了吗?
    Wasn’t (it that) I already put salt? (Did) you again put (some)?
  • Wǒ yǐjīng fàng le yán le. Nǐ yòu fàng le ma?
    我已经放了盐了。你又放了吗?
    (It is obvious that) I already put salt. (Did) you again put (some)?

☑ See also how to use The 是……的 Sentence Structure where the focus information is put in-between 是...的.

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