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Words for ‘yes’ in Chinese

Chinese words, learning Chinese, Chinese grammar

This post will talk about how you answer 'yes' to a question in Chinese, because in Mandarin, there is no single word for 'yes'. If you want to answer 'yes', the word you use depends on the situation.



If you look up in a dictionary, you might find entries such as 是 shì, 对 duì, 好的 hǎode or 可以 kěyǐ, but how do you know which one to use?



是 or 是的


The first word for 'yes' is 是 (shì) or 是的 (shì de), and it literally means 'to be', 'is' or 'am'. You can use it to answer questions that contain the verb 'to be', or where 'it is' or 'it is so'.

第一个表示"yes"的词:"是"或"是的",字面意思是"to be","is"或"am"。你可以用它回答含有动词"to be"或"where it is"、"it is so"的问题。


E.g. 你是王平吗?Are you Wang Ping? 是 Yes


对 or 对的


对 (duì) or 对的 (duì de) is another character that is often listed in dictionaries and phrasebooks as meaning 'yes', but it literally means 'right' or 'correct', so you can use it to answer questions where you are confirming that something is correct.



E.g. 在这里又转吗?Do you turn right here? 对 Yes




没错 (méi cuò) literally means 'right' or 'not wrong'. It can also be used to answer a question about whether something is right or not, and it's quite a strong confirmation.

"没错"字面意思是"right"或者"not wrong"。它也可用于回答关于某事是否正确的问题,而且它表示很强的肯定。


E.g. 你姓张吗? Is your surname Zhang? 没错 Yes



行 (xíng) means 'alright' or 'acceptable'. It can be used to answer 'alright' or 'okay' when you are accepting an offer or something similar.



E.g. 你今天想去看电影吗? Do you want to go and watch a movie today? 行 Yes




可以 (kě yǐ) literally means 'can', 'possible' or 'able to'. It can be used to say that you can do something or to respond to a request. In the previous example, we could also answer using 可以.

"可以"字面意思是"can"、"possible"或"able to",它可用于表示你有能力做某事或是对某请求的回应。上文例子里,我们也能用"可以"回答。


E.g 你今天想去看电影吗?Do you want to go and watch a movie today? 可以 Yes


好 or 好的


This one means 'good' or 'okay'. It's a very positive way to answer a question about whether you want to go ahead with something or not.



E.g 你要吃早餐吗?Do you want to eat breakfast? 好的 Yes


Using the verb in the question to answer yes


Sometimes, you don't even need to use a 'yes' word, you can just repeat the verb in the question to answer yes.



E.g 你想去旅游吗? Do you want to go travelling?


Here, the verb is the second character 想, which means 'want', so in this case we can simply repeat it and say 想 to say yes.



Translated from: fluentinmandarin

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