Chinese Calligraphy



Lesson 9

Saying "Yes" or "No" in Chinese

In Chinese there is no word meaning Yes or No as in English. Saying Yes or No depends on the context. For affirming or negating actions which take place in the present or future, you affirm or negate the verb of the preceding question.

The following examples show how to say Yes or No by confirming or negating the verb.

Yes or No

Note that the modal verb 得 (děi) cannot be used to affirm or negate the preceding question. For answering a yes-no question containing 得 (děi), you should use 對 for "yes" or 不對 for "no".

Yes or No

If the preceding question contains an adjective, you say Yes or No by either confirming or negating the adjective.

Yes or No

The affirmative 是 (shì) and the negation 不是 (bù shì)

In some situations the affirmative 是 (shì) or the negation 不是 (bù shì) can be used. 是 (shì) can be translated into English as "Right", "So it is" or "I agree". So the affirmative 是 (shì) or the negation 不是 (bù shì) are used to agree/disagree with a question or statement.

Yes or No

Alternative ways of saying Yes or No

Using the correct affirmation or negation form can be quite tricky in Chinese. Luckily there are also some alternative ways of saying Yes or No. We just use words like "Right!", "Exactly!", "Of course!", "Okay!" or "Not right!", "Not good!" or "Not yet!".

Yes or No

Asking rhetorical questions

For questions for which you think you already know the answer, you should use the pattern 不是 (bùshì) + 嗎 (ma).

Yes or No

是 (shì) before numbers

If the object of your sentences includes a numeral (e.g. sums of money, age, time etc.), you can omit 是 (shì) in the affirmative but not in the negation.

Yes or No