Learn Chinese for Free—Lesson 35

Lesson 35 of 360

Today's Chinese characters:


Today we introduce the first "interrogative word". You're going to learn another way of asking questions.

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Today with this lesson your knowledge of Chinese characters will reach 32.7% of all the Chinese language usage!

Characters' Essentials

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First character of the word 什么 ("what"). Taken alone, it doesn't have any meaning.
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[affix] Suffix used in interrogatives, pronouns and adverbs

Description and Examples

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shén   me   
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-What (used to indicate interrogation)
-Used to indicate something indefinite
-Used before or to indicate the absence of exceptions within the stated scope)
-In a phrase or sentence with one 什么 preceding another, the first 什么 always determines the meaning of the second 什么
-(Used to indicate surprise or displeasure)
-Used to indicate reproach
-(Used after a verb to indicate disapproval)
-(Used before parallel words or phrases to indicate enumeration
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shén   me   de   
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And so on, and what not

Dialogue 34


Sentence Structure 32
Interrogative Word “什么”

An interrogative word may be used to raise a question and it is placed where the answer is expected. Therefore, the word order of the answer is the same as that of the question, with the interrogative word being replaced by the corresponding answer. Here we pay special attention to the interrogative word 什么.

  1. 什么, when used alone as interrogative word, refers to things.


    Question: 什么


    Please note that the word order is the same in both answer and question. The interrogative word 什么 is in the same position of the part being questioned (that is the surname ).

  2. 什么, when used as an interrogative word before nouns, refers to things or persons.


    什么? (What sort of person is he?)
    什么工作? (Which job?)

The meaning of: 他姓什么?

It is used for asking another person's name. One shouldn't say: "?"

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Lesson 35 of 360

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