Saying yes is one of the first things most beginners learn in Chinese. Fortunately, there are many ways to express the affirmative in Mandarin.
For instance, instead of just saying “yes,” you can also respond with phrases such as ok, sure, or why not? All of these options are great to use in everyday conversation!
Shi / Shi De
In Chinese, the Shi / Shi De construction can emphasize specific information in a sentence. This information could detail time, place, manner, etc. In modern Chinese, the word shi () is almost always optional and can often be omitted entirely. However, if the context is correct, then omitting Shi will not negatively affect the meaning of the sentence.
For example, (wo shi yao dusi ni) means ‘that’s true,’ but you can also say (zhe ge dian hua bu shi ta li de) to ask if something happened. In this case, the omission of shi does not change the grammatical function of the sentence; it is still asking if something happened.
Learning these grammar structures can be challenging, but mastering them will empower you to convey greater clarity in your Chinese. Practice with immersive tools that turn authentic videos into personalized Chinese lessons, and it’s a yes in Chinese.
Dui (pronounced “duy”) is a Mandarin Chinese syllable. It is one of the seven strokes that all Chinese characters are composed of and is commonly used in conjunction with specific verb phrases to express regret or guilt.
For example, if someone accidentally breaks your pen, you can say “dui bu qi” to apologize. You can also use it to ask for forgiveness if you did something wrong to someone else, such as if your friend accidentally knocked over their glass.
This study uses conversation-analytic methods to examine assertion sequences in cosmetics sales interactions involving speakers of Mandarin Chinese. The analysis focuses on the interactional function of the response token dui in the third position, which registers the progression of common ground between salesperson and customer.
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Shi De Shi De
The most common form of this construction is to emphasize the time, manner, or place where a given verb took place. However, it also stresses any detail relevant to the question (such as whether something happened at all). For example, Wo Shi Shang Ge Yue Lai De: Is there anything like that in English?
This construction can also add to the forcefulness of a statement, for instance, by making it sound more specific and emphatic. It can also imply a sense of urgency if the question is asked quickly.
Much previous literature has focused on the semantics of verum shi and sentence-final de, but the remaining questions are crucial: (i) what does the addition of these forms convey? (ii) How do these emphatic effects differ from their canonical counterparts? And (iii) How should they be analyzed? The present paper conducts a series of acceptability judgment experiments to answer these questions. Among the results, we find that shi and de differ in their discourse licensing conditions. Whereas a question with verum shi can be licensed only in affirmative or corrective contexts, a question with de can be approved in positive and negatively biased contexts.
When you learn basic Chinese, you’ll quickly find that the character hao () can be used in many ways. This is especially true when you add a word or interjection after it, as you can express many different emotions and tones.
For example, hao de can mean “sounds good” positively, while hao le indicates something is already done. The meaning of hao will also depend on the other characters it is paired with and the tone and context.
For example, the formal version of ni hao ma is used when speaking to someone in authority, such as your boss or teacher. This makes sense, as it is a way to agree with what another person is saying. However, it is only sometimes used in casual conversation. Using it can sound foreign or cause confusion or misunderstanding. Instead, it is much more common to say ni zhen yang or ni zuijin zen yang when asking how someone is doing.
One of the first words a learner encounters when starting Chinese is Hao (), which means ‘good.’ But, when paired with different interjections and tones, it can convey various meanings and emotions.
For example, if someone asks whether you’re excited about having Sichuan food with them tomorrow at 3:00 pm, and your answer is Hao A (), it implies that you are indeed very excited! But if your response is Hao Ba (), it indicates that you are not thrilled but will still accept their invitation.
This is similar to how people might respond in English with a more hesitant “OK, I guess that sounds fine.” This shows that you agree with the person’s request but are not incredibly excited. This is also how you would reply to a request from your mum who asks if you’re going out for dinner tonight. Your response could be Hao La (). You will likely have to grit your teeth and go out, though!