Learn to Read Chinese: Final Sounds (Occupation), Asking Questions with 吗 (ma), 们 (men) for Plural

A final* is a sound (or sounds) that ends a Chinese syllable*. All finals contain at least one vowel* (for example, a, ao, ing). Let’s look at some of the simplest finals first.

bā eight (as in “father”
wǒ I (as in “or”)
hē drink (as in “about”)
nǐ you (as in “Lisa”
bù no / not (as in “shoe

Asking Questions with 吗 (ma)

Any sentence can be changed into a question by adding 吗 (ma, question word) to the end.

Statement

她去。 Tā qù. She is going.

Question

她去 Tā qù ma? Is she going?

Statement

你喝茶。 Nǐ hē chá. You drink tea.

Question

你喝茶 Nǐ hē chá ma? Do you drink tea?

们 (men) for Plural

Add (men) to words like I, you, him to make them plural*.

singular* marker plural* marker (们 men)
我,wǒ,I / me ,wǒmen,we / us
你,nǐ,you ,nǐmen,you all
他,tā,he / him ,tāmen,they / them
她,tā,she / her ,tāmen,they / them

Examples

我不认识他 wǒ bù rènshí tāmen. I don’t know them.
很高兴。 men hěn gāoxìng. We are happy.

Tones

While (bù,no / not) is usually pronounced with a 4th tone (like 骂 (mà,to scold)), it becomes a 2nd tone (like 麻 (má,hemp)) before another 4th tone.

不 + 4th tone

认识他们。 rènshí tāmen. I don’t know them.
他们是医生。 tāmen shì yīshēng. they are not doctors.

不 + other tones

喝咖啡。 hē kāfēi. she doesn’t drink coffee.
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