Modal Particles for Beginners – 吗/吧/呢/啊/喂/的

Modal Particles for Beginners – 吗/吧/呢/啊/喂/的

 

吧 (ba)

1. 吧 is often used in an imperative sentence to indicate a suggestion, request, urge, or command. It’s put at the end of a sentence to soften the tone.

Imperative sentence + 吧

e.g.

A:你下班了吗?我们一起去吃晚饭。(Nǐ xiàbān le ma? Wǒmen yīqǐ qù chī wǎnfàn ba.) Are you off work? Let’s go to dinner together.

B:好啊,吃什么?(Hǎo a, chī shénme?) OK, what to eat?

A:你决定。(Nǐ juédìng ba.) You decide.

B:那我们去吃火锅。(Nà wǒmen qù chī huǒguō ba.) Then let’s eat hot pot.

A:没问题。我们走。(Méi wèntí. Wǒmen zǒu ba.) No problem. Let’s go.

B:我还有一点儿工作,你先去。(Wǒ hái yǒu yīdiǎnr gōngzuò, nǐ xiān qù ba.) I still have a little work to do. You can go first.

A:我等你,不着急。(Wǒ děng nǐ ba, bù zháo jí.) I’ll wait for you, no hurry.

B:好!(Hǎo ba!) Alright!

 

2. 吧 can be used in an interrogative sentence to indicate the tone of guessing or estimation, and hope for the other party’s confirmation about some certain fact or situation. It’s put at the end of the sentence. There are often some adverbs in the sentence with the meaning of estimation or guessing, such as 可能,也许,大概,

Interrogative sentence + 吧 ?

e.g.

A:这是你的钱包(Zhè shì nǐ de qiánbāo ba?) Is this your wallet?

B:不是,我的钱包是黑色的。(Bùshì, wǒ de qiánbāo shì hēisè de.) No, my wallet is black.

 

A:你这次跑步能得第一名(Nǐ zhè cì pǎobù néng dé dì yī míng ba?) Can you win the first place in this run?

B:有可能得学校第一。(Yǒu kěnéng dé xuéxiào dì yī.) It is possible to get the first place in the school.

A:下次也许就能得全市第一了(Xià cì yěxǔ jiù néng dé quánshì dì yī le ba?) Maybe next time you will be the first in the city, right?

B:不知道,大家都很厉害。(Bù zhīdào, dàjiā dōu hěn lìhài.) I don’t know, everyone is amazing.

 

呢 (ne)

1. Interrogative sentence

呢 can be used in an interrogative sentence to indicate an interrogative tone. It’s often put at the end of the sentence. Note that 呢 cannot be used in the Yes-no question.

Interrogative sentence + 呢 ?

e.g.

A:你在吃什么(Nǐ zài chī shénme ne?) What are you eating?

B:我在吃西瓜。(Wǒ zài chī xīguā.) I’m eating watermelon.

A:谁给你买的西瓜(Shéi gěi nǐ mǎi de xīguā ne?) Who bought the watermelon for you?

B:同学送给我的。(Tóngxué sòng gěi wǒ de.) My classmate gave it to me.

 

A:你为什么用我的电脑(Nǐ wèishénme yòng wǒ de diànnǎo ne?) Why are you using my computer?

B:我的电脑没电了。(Wǒ de diànnǎo méi diànle.) My computer is out of power.

 

Do you like to eat hot pot?

X 你喜欢吃火锅(Nǐ xǐhuān chī huǒguō ne?)

√ 你喜欢吃火锅(Nǐ xǐhuān chī huǒguō ma?)

 

呢 can also be used in an elliptical question and the specific content asked about is omitted since the context is given previously already. It’s often used after a pronoun or noun. In this case, 呢 cannot be omitted.

Declarative sentence, Pronoun / Noun + 呢 ?

e.g.

A:我叫张飞,你(Wǒ jiào Zhāng Fēi, nǐ ne?) My name is Zhang Fei, how about you?

B:我叫李阳。我会说英语和汉语,你(Wǒ jiào Lǐ Yáng. Wǒ huì shuō Yīngyǔ hé Hànyǔ, nǐ ne?) My name is Li Yang. I can speak English and Chinese, how about you?

A:我也会。我学习汉语三年了,你(Wǒ yě huì. Wǒ xuéxí hànyǔ sān niánle, nǐ ne?) I will too. I have been studying Chinese for three years, how about you?

B:我学习汉语一年了。我明天有考试,你(Wǒ xuéxí hànyǔ yī nián le. Wǒ míngtiān yǒu kǎoshì, nǐ ne?) I have been studying Chinese for a year. I have an exam tomorrow, how about you?

A:我没有。我现在去车站,你(Wǒ méiyǒu. Wǒ xiànzài qù chēzhàn, nǐ ne?) I don’t. I’m going to the station now, how about you?

B:我回学校。(Wǒ huí xuéxiào.) I’m going back to school.

 

2. Declarative sentence

呢 can be used in a declarative sentence to indicate an action or a situation is going on. It’s often put at the end of the sentence. There are often used the adverbs like 正,正在, and 在 in the sentence.

Declarative sentence + 呢

e.g.

A:你在做什么?(Nǐ zài zuò shénme?) What are you doing?

B:我正看书。(Wǒ zhèng kànshū ne.) I am reading a book.

A:出来散步吧?(Chūlái sànbù ba?) Are you going out for a walk?

B:外面下雨,不想出去。(Wàimiàn xià yǔ ne, bùxiǎng chūqù.) It’s raining outside. I don’t want to go out.

A:你妹妹想去吗?(Nǐ mèimei xiǎng qù ma?) Does your sister want to go?

B:她正睡觉。(Tā zhèng shuìjiào ne.) She is sleeping.

 

啊 (a)

啊 is often used at the end of a sentence to strengthen the tone.

  • When it’s a declarative sentence, it’s used to explain or remind others.
  • When it’s an imperative sentence, it indicates a request, urge, demand, or warning.
  • When it’s a question, “啊” is used to soften the tone.

Sentence + 啊

 

Sometimes, 啊 can be added right after the subject, or in the middle of a sentence, to indicate a pause.

Subject +啊 + Predicate

e.g.

A:今天真热!(Jīntiān zhēn rè a!) It’s so hot today!

B:是,夏天来了。(Shì a, xiàtiān láile.) Yes, summer is here.

A:今天谁没来上课?(Jīntiān shéi méi lái shàngkè a?) Who didn’t come to class today?

B:李老师没来。(Lǐ lǎoshī méi lái.) Teacher Li didn’t come.

A:李老师,她生病了。(Lǐ lǎoshī a, tā shēngbìngle.) Teacher Li, she is sick.

B:我们下课去看她?(Wǒmen xiàkè qù kàn tā a?) Shall we go see her after class?

A:但是我今天没时间。(Dànshì wǒ jīntiān méi shíjiān a.) But I don’t have time today.

 

家乡的美食,朋友,风景,都是我非常想念的。(Jiāxiāng de měishí a, péngyǒu a, fēngjǐng a, dōu shì wǒ fēicháng xiǎngniàn de.) The food in my hometown, my friends, and the scenery is all that I miss very much.

这个人的身高,学历,年龄,都和你非常像,你想认识他吗?(Zhège rén de shēngāo a, xuélì a, niánlíng a, dōu hé nǐ fēicháng xiàng, nǐ xiǎng rènshí tā ma?) This person’s height, education, and age are very similar to yours. Do you want to know him?

 

今天打电话给你,是想跟你谈一下孩子的事情。(Jīntiān dǎ diànhuà gěi nǐ a, shì xiǎng gēn nǐ tán yīxià háizi de shìqíng.) I’m calling you today to talk to you about your child.

去年,我还不认识你呢。(Qùnián a, wǒ hái bù rènshí nǐ ne.) Last year, I didn’t know you yet.

要是你愿意做这件事,我们就放心了。(Yàoshi nǐ yuànyì zuò zhè jiàn shì a, wǒmen jiù fàngxīnle.) If you’re willing to do this, we’ll be relieved.

 

 

When 啊 is used after the verb which is reduplicated, it indicates the process is very long.

Verb + 啊 + Verb + 啊

e.g.

,一个小时以后才跑到家。(Tā pǎo a pǎo a, yīgè xiǎoshí yǐhòu cái pǎo dàojiā.) He kept running, and an hour later he ran home.

我的小猫不见了,全家一起,终于找到了。(Wǒ de xiǎo māo bùjiànle, quánjiā yì qǐ zhǎo a zhǎo a, zhōngyú zhǎodàole.) My kitten is missing, the whole family kept searching, and finally found it.

警察一直,最后抓到了小偷。(Jǐngchá yīzhí zhuī a zhuī a, zuìhòu zhuā dàole xiǎotōu.) The police kept chasing, and finally caught the thief.

 

喂 (wèi)

喂 is used as a greeting word to draw others’ attention. It’s often used in face-to-face greetings or phone calls. Except in the phone call, it’s not usually used to greet the one who is older than you.

e.g.

Phone call:

,请问你找谁?(Wèi, qǐngwèn nǐ zhǎo shéi?) Hello, who are you looking for?

,请问是张医生吗?(Wèi, qǐngwèn shì Zhāng yīshēng ma?) Hello, is this Dr. Zhang?

 

Greetings or draw others’ attention:

,你去哪儿?(Wèi, nǐ qù nǎr?) Hey, where are you going?

,小心车!(Wèi, xiǎoxīn chē!) Hey, watch out for the car!

,你的钱包掉了。(Wèi, nǐ de qiánbāo diàole.) Hello, your wallet has fallen.

,请排队!(Wèi, qǐng páiduì!) Hello, please line up!

 

的 (de)

As a modal particle, 的 can be used at the end of a sentence to indicate affirmation or an established fact.

Subject + Predicate + 的

 

This use of “的” is the one in the “是……的” pattern.

Subject + (是) + Predicate + 的

e.g.

A:你怎么知道她明天来上海?(Nǐ zěnme zhīdào tā míngtiān lái Shànghǎi?) How do you know she will come to Shanghai tomorrow?

B:我问过她。(Wǒ wènguò tā de.) I asked her.

A:这不可能,上海的会议取消了。(Zhè bù kěnéng de, Shànghǎi de huìyì qǔxiāole.) This is impossible. The meeting in Shanghai has been canceled.

B:是吗?她说,我也不清楚。(Shì ma? Tā shuō de, wǒ yě bù qīngchǔ.) Is it? She said so. I’m not sure as well.

 

A:你们怎么去学校?(Nǐmen zěnme qù xuéxiào de?) How did you get to school?

B:我们是走路去。(Wǒmen shì zǒulù qù de.) We went there on foot.

A:什么时候到?(Shénme shíhòu dào de?) When did you arrive?

B:我们下午到。(Wǒmen xiàwǔ dào de.) We arrived in the afternoon.

1. 他已经坚持学习汉语十年了,多不容易 ___ !(Tā yǐjīng jiānchí xuéxí hànyǔ shínián le, duō bùróngyì ___ !)
A.
B.
C.
D.
2. A: 他就是你的老师 ___ ?(Tā jiùshì nǐde lǎoshī ___ ?)
B: 对 ___ ,他就是我的汉语老师。(Duì ___ , tā jiùshì wǒde hànyǔ lǎoshī.)
A.
B.
C.
D.
3. 这就是你家 ___ ?真大啊!(Zhè jiùshì nǐ jiā ___ ? Zhēn dà a!)
A.
B.
C.
D.
4. 时间过得真快 ___ ,我们已经认识五年了。(Shíjiān guòde zhēn kuài ___ , wǒmen yǐjīng rènshi wǔnián le.)
A.
B.
C.
D.
5. 我们 ___ ,走了一个小时才找到饭店。(Wǒmen ___ , zǒu le yígè xiǎoshí cái zhǎodào fàndiàn.)
A.
B.
C.
D.
6. ___ ,阿姨,小丽在家吗?( ___ , ā yí, xiǎolì zàijiā ma?)
A.
B.
C.
D.
7. ___ ,你的电话响了。( ___ , nǐde diànhuà xiǎng le.)
A.
B.
C.
D.

 

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2 Responses

  1. I suppose there is an error in the character used in the second explanation “interrogative sentence + 吗“。
    It should read “interrogative sentence + 吧”。

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