WH-questions in Chinese

Do you know how to ask a question in Chinese? Besides putting “吗” to the end of a sentence, we can also use WH words in order to form a question.

In a sentence containing WH-words, the word order is the same for questions and statements. That means no matter what the WH-words are, they stay right at the same place in the sentences without any structural changing. You simply place a question word in the place of the thing you want to ask about.

Now let’s get to know the most commonly used WH-words in mandarin Chinese!

WH-words in Chinese

WH-words in Chinese

什么 (shén me) What



In a sentence, 什么 can be either a subject or an object.

E.g.

Shénme shì "shènɡnǚ"?

什么是“剩女”?

What is “leftover lady”?



Nǐ de mínɡzi shì shénme?

你的名字是什么?

What’s your name?



为什么 (wèi shénme) Why



为 means “for”. 什么 means “what”. So, literally 为什么 means “for what” or “why”. If people ask you “为什么…?”, you can answer them “因为…”, meaning “because (of) …”.

Dialogue 1

Nǐ wèishénme xǐhuɑn xué hànyǔ?

你为什么喜欢学汉语?

Why do you like learning Chinese?



Yīnwèi hànyǔ hěn yǒu yìsi.

因为汉语很有意思。

Because Chinese is very interesting.



Dialogue 1

Nǐ wèishénme hěn ɡāo xìnɡ?

你为什么很高兴?

Why you are so happy?



Yīnwèi wǒ zhǎo dào ɡōnɡzuò le.

因为我找到工作了。

Because I got a new job!



什么时候 (shénme shíhou) When



In Chinese, we use 什么时候 to ask about time.

E.g.

Nǐ de shēnɡrì shì shénme shíhou?

你的生日是什么时候?

When is your birthday?



Nǐ shénme shíhou qù Běijīnɡ?

你什么时候去北京?

When will you go to Beijing?



哪(里) (nǎlǐ) Where



In Chinese, we use 哪 or 哪里 to ask “where somebody or some place is”.

E.g.

Chāoshì zài nǎ?

超市在哪?

Where is the supermarket?



Nǎ shì nǐ de jiāxiānɡ?

哪是你的家乡?

Where is your hometown?



哪个 (nǎ ɡè) Which



In Chinese, we use “哪 + measure word” to express “which”. The most common word is 哪个.

E.g.

Nǐ yào nǎ ɡè yánsè?

你要哪个颜色?

Which color do you want?



Nǎ wèi shì nǐ ɡēɡe?

哪位是你哥哥?

Which is your elder brother?



谁 (shuí) Who



In Chinese, we use 谁 to express “who” and “ whom”.

E.g.

Shuí shì nǐ de lǎoshī?

谁是你的老师?

Who is your teacher?



Nǐ kàn dào le shuí?

你看到了谁?

Whom did you see?



怎么 (zěn me) How



怎么 is used to express the meaning “how”.

E.g.

Nǐ zěnme qù xuéxiào?

你怎么去学校?

How do you go to school?



Zhè ɡe cí zěnme dú?

这个词怎么读?

How do you read this word?



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