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How to Ask Questions in Chinese Posted by on Apr 12, 2013 in grammar, Vocabulary

Learning how to ask questions is a critical part of studying any language. Today I’m going to help you understand the basics of how to ask questions in Chinese. First, let’s learn the six major question words: 

English

Chinese

Pinyin

Who

shuí

What

什么

shén me

Where

哪/哪里

nǎ/nǎ lǐ

When

什么时候

shén me shí hou

Why

为什么

wèi shén me

How

怎么

zěn me

Now, let’s learn some different ways to use each of these question words with a few examples for each.

Watching this great video brought to you by Xiao Qian will help you with your pronunciation.

Who…?

English

Chinese

Pinyin

Who are you?

你是谁?

nǐ shì shuí

Who wants to go?

谁想去?

shuí xiǎng qù

Do you know who she is?

你知道她是谁吗?

nǐ zhī dào tā shì shuí ma

Who is your teacher?

你的老师是谁?

nǐ de lǎo shī shì shuí

Who ate my food?

谁吃了我的饭?

shuí chī le wǒ de fàn

 

 

What…?

 

English

Chinese

Pinyin

What’s this?

这是什么?

zhè shì shén me

What’s your name?

你叫什么名字?

nǐ jiào shén me míng zì

What things did you (plural) buy?

你们买了什么东西?

nǐ men mǎi le shén me dōng xi

What’s his problem?

他有什么事?

tā yǒu shén me shì

What would you like to eat?

你想吃什么?

nǐ xiǎng chī shén me

 

Where…?

English

Chinese

Pinyin

Where is the bathroom?

卫生间在哪?

wèi sheng jiān zài nǎ

Where do you live?

你住在哪里?

nǐ zhù zài nǎ lǐ

Where’s he from?

他是哪里的人?

tā shì nǎ lǐ de rén

Where are you going? (Beijing cab driver)

去哪儿?

qù nǎ’er?

Where did you buy your computer?

你在哪买了你的电脑?

nǐ zài nǎ mǎi le nǐ de diàn nǎo

This video that I made will give you further help in regards to “Where…?” questions.

When…?

English

Chinese

Pinyin

When do you start work?

你什么时候上班?

nǐ shén me shi hou shàng bān

When are we leaving?

我们什么时候走?

wǒ men shén me shí hou zǒu

When is your friend coming?

你的朋友什么时候来?

nǐ de péng yǒu shén me shí hou lái

When do the kids start class?

小孩什么时候上课?

xiǎo hái shén me shí hou shàng kè

When do you (plural) close?

你们什么时候关门?

nǐ men shén me shí hou guān mén

 

 

Why…?

English

Chinese

Pinyin

Why did you come to China?

你为什么来中国?

nǐ wèi shén me lái zhōng guó

Why isn’t he going?

他为什么不去?

tā wèi shén me bù qù

Why do you like playing basketball?

你为什么喜欢打篮球?

nǐ wèi shén me xǐ huan dǎ lán qiú

Why isn’t she here yet?

她为什么还没来?

tā wèi shén me hái méi lái

Why is this one so expensive?

这个为什么那么贵?

zhè ge wèi shén me nà me guì

 

How…?

English

Chinese

Pinyin

How can I get to the subway station?

怎么去地铁站?

zěn me qù dì tiě zhàn

How do you cook Kung Pao Chicken?

怎么做宫保鸡丁?

zěn me zuò gōng bǎo jī dīng

How do you know I’m American?

你怎么知道我是美国人?

nǐ zěn me zhī dào wǒ shì měi guó rén

How are your parents?

你的父母怎么样?

nǐ de fù mǔ zěn me yàng

How do you say “Hello” in Chinese?

“Hello”的中文怎么说??

“Hello” de zhōng wén zěn me shuō

This video from Peggy Laoshi teaches you how to ask “How do you say… in Chinese?”

Well that should at least get you started. Now, try and make at least one question for each word!

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About the Author: sasha

Sasha is an English teacher, writer, photographer, and videographer from the great state of Michigan. Upon graduating from Michigan State University, he moved to China and spent 5+ years living, working, studying, and traveling there. He also studied Indonesian Language & Culture in Bali for a year. He and his wife run the travel blog Grateful Gypsies, and they're currently trying the digital nomad lifestyle across Latin America.


Comments:

  1. Emery:

    Hello,
    When do we use :
    1) “Shei” or “Shui” for the word “Who”?
    2) “zen me” or “zen me yang” for the word “How” ?

    Thank you!

    • sasha:

      @Emery Hi Emery,

      For saying “who”, sometimes it is written as “shei” while other times it is written as “shui.” It’s the same thing, just a different way of spelling it.

      怎么样(zen me yang) means “how” as in “How about that?” or “How are you?”

      Just using 怎么 (zen me) means “how” on its own, as in “怎么去…?” or “How can I go to…?” The first is more of an expression, while the second is the actual Chinese word for “how.” Hope that helps 🙂


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