Usage of "ma" for a question

July 11, 2011, 03:38 PM posted in General Discussion

Hi there ! 你好!

I have a question :
I noticed that when asking questions, you sometimes have to put ma behind the sentence, to make it a question.
But sometimes you also don't have to do that.

So what's the difference?
(this question/topic is probably already answered a thousand times, but I just want to know:) )


Profile picture
July 12, 2011, 02:01 AM

I think you are supposed to use 嗎 "ma" when you expect the question to be a yes or no answer. 

There are other ways of asking questions like you have noted these are the words that in English make a question like....

how 怎麼 zen3me

who 誰 shei2

why 為甚麼 wei4shen2me

what 甚麼 shen2me

(PS...I am using traditional text here not simplified)

So anytime you see words like these in a sentence it is a good bet you don't need a "ma" at the end. 

Having said all that, I often accidentally add a ma at the end of sentences. If you make the same mistake it won't prevent you from being understood. 

One other part to it...

Sometimes you have questions in the form of "X"or not "X"...These do not need a ma either

For example

是不是 shi4bushi4 = to be or not to be

會不會 hui4buhui4 = to be able to or not

Hope this helps a little. 

Profile picture
July 13, 2011, 09:12 AM

o yes :)
Thank you very much.
Now I understand :p