Questions in Chinese 🙇🏼‍♀️ 59 Vital Question Words and Questions to Learn

59 Important Question Words & Questions in Chinese You NEED To Know

Asking questions in Chinese, or any language for that matter happens probably even more than you’d imagine.

Do you speak English in Chinese. Learn this basic Mandarin sentence and more on our blog! Over 100 helpful basic mandarin sentences to help you get by in China

So on that basis alone we believe having a one-stop guide to all the question words in Chinese, along with examples is a useful idea…

but, where, to, find, one…?

Oh look, you just asked a question!

Well, obviously you come to friends here at LTL because no one teaches Chinese better right?!

(another question, that’s two already)

Alright enough of that… onto the good stuff.

Questions in Chinese – Key Words

Questions in Chinese – Key Phrases

Questions in Chinese – 20 Common Questions

Questions in Chinese – What’s 吗?


Questions in Chinese – The Key Words

OK here’s the questions in Chinese key words you need to know:

  • Who shéi also read/pronounced as shuí
  • What – 什么 shén me
  • Why – 为什么 wèi shén me
  • Where – 哪里 nǎ lǐ
  • Which 哪个 nǎ ge
  • When – 什么时候 shén me shí hou
  • How – 怎么 zěn me

OK so with those words now let’s ask some questions in Chinese.

BONUS – Question in Chinese is 问题 wèn tí

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Questions in Chinese – Key Phrases

So we’ve learnt 7 important question words in Chinese but now let’s build some context around them and teach you some all important grammar structures which you’ll need to remember.

Who shéi

  • Who is coming tonight?
    • 今晚来?
    • jīn wǎn shéi lái?
  • Who is China’s most famous singer?
    • 是中国最有名的歌手?
    • shéi shì zhōngguó zuì yǒumíng de gēshǒu?
  • Who don’t you like?
    • 你不喜欢
    • nǐ bù xǐhuān shéi?

TIP – Notice that who in Chinese does not always appear at the start of the sentence as in English, you’ll find that with a couple of examples in Chinese so take care.

Our two structure for who questions:

  • Subject + 是 +谁?
    • EXAMPLE – Who is that?
  • 谁 + Verb?
    • EXAMPLE – Who is playing?

What – 什么 shén me

Questions in Chinese
  • What is this?
    • 这是什么?
    • zhè shì shénme?
  • What are you thinking?
    • 你在想什么?
    • nǐ zài xiǎng shénme?
  • What do you want to do tomorrow?
    • 你明天想做什么?
    • nǐ míngtiān xiǎng zuò shénme?

TIP – As you probably noticed, what comes at the end of each of these sentences.

It takes some time to get into the habit of when speaking, but be sure to remember this.

Our structure for what questions = Subject + Verb + 什么

You can extend this with Subject + Verb + 什么 (+ Object)

Why – 为什么 wèi shén me

  • Why should I learn Chinese?
    • 为什么要学中文?
    • wèishénme yào xué zhōngwén?
  • Why is it so cold today?
    • 今天为什么这么冷?
    • jīntiān wèishénme zhème lěng?
  • Why did we drink so much?
    • 我们为什么喝那么多酒?
    • wǒmen wèishénme yāo hè nàme duō jiǔ?

TIP – Notice Why and What are almost the same with Why simply adding a before 什么. It helps when trying to remember them together when studying Chinese in your earlier stages.

Our structure for why questions = Subject +为什么 + Verb?

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55 Chinese Swear Words 🤬 Curse Words in Mandarin You Should Know

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Where – 哪里 nǎ lǐ

Questions in Chinese - Where
  • Where are you from?
    • 你从哪里来?
    • 你来自哪里
    • nǐ cóng nǎlǐ lái?
    • nǐ láizì nǎlǐ
  • Where is the stadium?
    • 体育场在哪里
    • tǐyùchǎng zài nǎlǐ?

Note again, the question for where never appears at the start of the sentence like some of the previous examples we’ve already studied.

TIP – Those good folk of Beijing love to add the harsh 儿 sound onto everything which effectively makes you sound like a pirate (think a pirate shouting arghhhh, that’s the sound for 儿).

Rather than using the softer sounding nǎ lǐ, Beijing-ers (and northern Chinese for that matter) like to use nǎ er 哪儿.

If you don’t believe us… this meme should explain it pretty clearly!

儿儿儿 - The Beijing ER Sound! Chinese Memes at their finest

Which 哪个 nǎ ge

  • Which country are you from?
    • 你来自哪个国家
    • nǐ láizì nǎge guójiā
  • Which VPN is the best?
    • 哪个VPN最好?
    • nǎge VPN zuì hǎo?
  • Which iPhone should I buy?
    • 我应该买哪个iPhone?
    • wǒ yīnggāi mǎi nǎgè iPhone?

TIP – When you take your very first steps into Chinese you’ll learn 这个 and那个this and that respectively.

Use these when you first go to a Chinese restaurant and you are unable to read the Chinese menu. Just point at what you like and use 这个 and 那个.

There is no scenario when it fails, trust us, Campbell uses it to this day every time he gets his Subway sandwich (although we recommend you follow Alice and Max’s lead on this one)!

Campbell reveals his hack to ordering Subway in Chinese using just ONE word

When – 什么时候 shén me shí hou

The longest of all the question words, four whole characters.

Notice again, when uses 什么, just like what and why.

  • When is Chinese New Year?
    • 春节是什么时候
    • chūnjié shì shénme shíhòu?
  • When does the football match begin?
    • 足球比赛什么时候开始?
    • Zúqiú bǐsài shénme shíhòu kāishǐ?
  • When is your birthday?
    • 你的生日是什么时候
    • Nǐ de shēngrì shì shénme shíhòu

TIP – In Chinese when asking a question with when, remember it goes at the end of the sentence.

Our structure for when questions = Subject + 什么时候 + Verb?

How – 怎么 zěn me

Questions in Chinese - How
  • How are you?
    • 怎么样?
    • zěnme yàng?
  • How do I get to KFC?
    • 怎么去肯德基?
    • zěnme qù kěndéjī?
  • How can we get to Shanghai?
    • 我们怎么去上海?
    • wǒmen zěnme qù shànghǎi?

There are other important how questions which we will come to shortly, that don’t involve 怎么.

Don’t worry, it’s all very simple!

Our structure for how questions = Subject +怎么 + Verb + Object?

Questions in Chinese – 20 Common Questions

Feeling more confident now?

You can ask some important questions and you know 7 vital question words in Chinese… but we aren’t finished yet.

Far from it.

Now we want to teach you 20 of the most common questions in Chinese (or any language for that matter) that you should absolutely learn, right about now!

Questions in Chinese

We’ve covered some already in the examples above so we won’t repeat them, but instead teach you some others!

Just one quick note. There are two ways to say “you” in Chinese:

您 Nín and 你 Nǐ – both have the same meaning but the former is the polite version, whereas the latter is for everyday use. For our questions we have used the former, the more polite version.

Let’s get underway:

What’s your name?
Nín jiào shénme míngzi?

What’s your nationality?
Nín shì nǎguórén?

How old are you?
Nín duódà le?

What is your date of birth?
Nín de chūshēng rìqī shì jǐyuè jǐhào?

Do you have brothers or sisters?
Nín yǒu xiōngdì jiěmèi ma?

Family Tree in Chinese
Check out our Family Tree in Chinese Infographic

How many brothers and sisters do you have?
Nín yǒu jǐgè xiōngdì jiěmèi?

Do you have children?
Nín yǒu háizi ma?

How many children do you have?
Nín yǒu jǐgè háizi?

Are you married?
Nín jiéhūn le ma?

What is your address?
Nínde dìzhǐ shì shénme?

What is your telephone number?
Nínde diànhuà hàomǎ shì shénme?

What’s your job?
Nín zuò shén me gōng zuò?

What’s your job? Tell us in Chinese

Do you like China?
Nín xǐ huan zhōng guó ma?

What are your hobbies?
Nín de ài hào shì shén me?

What’s your salary?
Nín de gōng zī shì duō shǎo?

NOTE – Yes you might be right to raise an eyebrow at this one… you don’t normally ask people, even close friends, what their salary is, but in China, oddly, the opposite applies. Your salary is one of the first questions you maybe asked so be prepared!

Where do you live?
Nín zhù zài nǎ lǐ?

What is your favourite cuisine?
Nín zuì xǐhuān de cài shì shénme?

Do you have a boyfriend?
Nín yǒu nán péng yǒu ma?

Do you have a girlfriend?
Nín yǒu nǚ péng yǒu ma?

How long have you been studying Chinese?
Nín xué Zhōngwén duōjiǔ le?

Questions in Chinese – What’s 吗?

OK our final lesson for questions in Chinese comes with the character 吗.

When you say a question in English you say:

How old are you? NOT How are old are you question mark

Well, start getting into that habit because in Chinese that’s exactly what 吗 is – a question particle.

In most instances (not all, that’s important to know) you will need to add a 吗 onto the end of a sentence to show you are asking a question.

吗 is simply pronounced ma – no tone. Just the neutral, flat 5th tone.

Scroll up and check all the questions we’ve taught you again, see how many include 吗.

Small Group Classes at LTL
Question particles got our students in a spin!

There is another similar particle, which we’ll quickly touch on now 呢, pronounced ne.

In a nutshell these two do the following:

  • 吗 ma – used to turn statements into yes/no questions.
  • 呢 ne – mostly used to turn statements into queries.
    • You can also add 呢 to the end of a sentence to ask “where is”, but that’s for another lesson.

Back to 吗 ma

So we use this for yes-no questions, which is also called a “binary question”.

Essentially this means that it is a question that can only be answered with “yes” or “no”.

No go back up and look at our questions again, see how it work?

Do you have a boyfriend? This question DOES use the 吗 ma particle because we can answer with yes or no.

How old are you? This question DOES NOT use the 吗 ma particle because we need to reply with our age.

So after all that – any questions?!

Questions in Chinese – Quiz

Welcome to Questions Quiz! Enter your First name and email to begin. Don't worry you can unsubscribe at any time!

First Name

Questions in Chinese – FAQ’s

How do you say “what” in Chinese?

What – 什么 shén me

How do you say “how” in Chinese?

How – 怎么 zěn me

How do you say “why” in Chinese?

Why – 为什么 wèi shén me

How do you say “where” in Chinese?

Where – 哪里 nǎ lǐ

How do you say “who” in Chinese?

Who shéi also read/pronounced as shuí

How do you say “which” in Chinese?

Which 哪个 nǎ ge

How do you say “when” in Chinese?

When – 什么时候 shén me shí hou

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  1. Really good list of examples 🙂

    1. LTL Team HQ

      Glad you liked!

      1. Khan

        Thanks, it was useful for me , 谢谢你

  2. Anonymous

    Thank you for this article! I was able to refresh the basics with this. 😊

    1. Max Hobbs

      Glad you liked it 🙂