Questions with 是否

  • We have learnt 2 types of pattern to form a question:

    1. by adding a particle 吗 at the end of a declarative senetence:
    Declarative sentence + “吗”

    2. by repeating the first verb of the verb phrase in affirmative and negative form:
    verb + not (不/没) + verb

  • Today we are going to learn another to form a sentence by using 是否.
  • 是否 means whether or if, and have the similar meaning as 是不是.
  • When 是否 is used before a verb, it turns a statement into a yes–no question.
  • 是否 questions are more common in written Chinese than in the spoken language.
  • Here are some examples that we learn last week. I have restructured the questions by using 是否:
    1. Can you speak Chinese?
    shì fǒu huì shuō zhōng wén ?
    you whether know speak Chinese
    2. Are you going swimming tomorrow?
    shì fǒu míng tiān yóu yǒng ?
    you whether tomorrow go swimming
    3. Do you like him?
    shì fǒu huān ?
    you whether like him
    4. Do you have money?
    shì fǒu yǒu qián ?
    you whether have money
    5. Couldn’t you give him a call?
    shì fǒu diàn huà gěi
    you whether can call measure
    phone to him
  • Try to reply ‘yes’ and ‘no’ to the above questions. You could post your answers in the comment session.
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7 thoughts on “Questions with 是否”

  1. Min min,

    Thanks for this lesson. I have heard people saying “ni shi fou …” but I couldn’t understand the rest of the sentence because I had never seen the 是否 construction before. I thought they might be saying 师傅, but the context didn’t make sense. Now I understand. Thanks again. I don’t comment as often as I used to, but rest assured I read every one of your lessons.

    1. Hi Joe,
      Yes. 师傅 (shī fù) is totally different from 是否 (shì fǒu). Some of Chinese words have very similar pronunciation, but the meanings of the words are different.
      Thanks for coming to my website to learn Chinese. 谢谢。

  2. Hi Min min,
    I have been studying your posts and they are proving to be extremely helpful to me. I have just one doubt here in this post,
    你 是 否 明 天 去 游 泳? Shouldn’t time phrase come before???

  3. And yet another doubt, I have learnt from your posts that prepositional phrases come before.
    so in this sentence, 你 是 否 可 以 打 个 电 话 给 他 ? shouldn’t 给 他 come somewhere before??
    Like if I were to reply to this question, I would have probably said, 我 可以 给 他 打电话. So is it wrong? Shouldn’t 给 他 come before the verb 打??

    1. Hi saloni,

      It is correct to say:
      你是否可以 ( 给他 ) 打个电话?
      Both sentence structures are correct.

      For your sentence:
      It is not very correct, you need to add a measure word 个 in front of the noun

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