Questions with Verb-Not-Verb

  • We have learnt to form a question by adding a particle 吗 at the end of a declarative senetence. (link)

    The sentence pattern is :
    Declarative sentence + “吗”

  • Questions can also be formed by repeating the first verb of the verb phrase in affirmative and negative form.

    The sentence pattern is :
    verb + not (不/没) + verb

  • Here are some examples:
    1. Can you speak Chinese?
    huì huì shuō zhōng wén ?
    ?
    verb not verb
    you know or not know speak Chinese
    2. Are you going swimming tomorrow?
    shì shì míng tiān yóu yǒng ?
    ?
    verb not verb
    you yes or not yes tomorrow go swimming
    3. Do you like him?
    huān ?
    ?
    verb not verb
    you or not like him
    or you can say:
    喜欢不喜欢他?
    4. Do you have money?
    yǒu méi yǒu qián ?
    ?
    verb not verb
    you have or not have money
    5. Couldn’t you give him a call?
    diàn huà gěi
    ?
    verb not verb
    you or not can call measure
    word
    phone to him
    or you can say:
    喜欢不喜欢他?
  • Try to reply ‘yes’ and ‘no’ to the above questions. You could post your answers in the comment session.
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6 thoughts on “Questions with Verb-Not-Verb”

  1. Hey there! I was wondering, do you have to make it verb+not+verb when asking a yes or no question, or is it optional?
    你喜不喜欢他? 对,我喜欢他。

  2. So pretty much, you don’t have to say this. However, we need to recognize it when people say it.
    It’s just like Americans saying, “Do you want this or not?” or “Do you want or not want it?” When we could just say, “Do you want it?” or “Do you not want it?”

    Correct me if I’m wrong.

    1. Hi Hsiao-yuen,
      Basically it is not wrong to say “你喜不喜欢他?” or “你喜欢他吗?”.
      Both are correct.

  3. Is there a sense or nuance of impatience or annoyance when using this construction?
    In Korean, “돈 있어, 없어?” (你有没有钱?) can be rude because it sounds like the speaker is in somewhat of a hurry.

    Thanks for your blog, by the way – I’m learning heaps!

    1. Hi BC,
      It depends on the tone of the speaker.
      It can be quite polite if you say with soft tone “你有没有钱?可以借我吗?”.

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