Lesson 4, Topic 3
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Grammar

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Asking questions with question words

Last lesson, we learnt how to ask questions by adding a question particle 吗 (ma) at the end of a statement or using 呢 (ne) to “bounce back” a question. Today, we will learn how to use specific question words to ask questions. 

Using question words in a sentence

In Chinese, you do not typically need to change the word order in a sentence when asking questions. Instead, simply replace the word you want to find out with a suitable question word.

For example:
This is Sam = This is who?

Let’s learn some common question words and see some examples of how they are used in sentences!

Common question words

Listen

Chinese

Pinyin

English

HSK level

      

shéi

who

      
什么

shénme

what

      

哪里

nǎlǐ

where

Example sentences

In order to form a question, you just need to phrase the sentence as normal, but replace the word you want to find out with a suitable question word. Here are some examples:

Question

Statement

你叫什么名字?
Nǐ jiào shénme míngzi?
You are called what name?
你叫Katie
Nǐ jiào Katie
You are called Katie 
你是
Nǐ shì shéi?
You are who?
你是Katie
Nǐ shì Katie
You are Katie 
你再哪里?
Nǐ zài nǎlǐ?
You are at where ?
你再
Nǐ zài jiā
You are at home