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Chinese Grammar: Lesson: An introduction to particles (and interjections) with 吧 and 呢.

The Chinese love to pepper their speech with interjections and particles. Some are extremely common and useful to know! You'll get the hang of them as you interact with native speakers, but here's a little push.

We're going to start with two very common particles today: (ba) and (ne).


Bounce back questions with

The main use for is to bounce back questions at someone.

In this case, its use is very similar to the “and you?” in English, when you’re directly returning the question to someone. More generally, is also very close to "how about" or "what about" in English. You'll see, it's a handy little bugger.


Statement/Topic +
Just hang it at the end.


I’m going to eat. How about you?

爸爸 妈妈
How’s your dad? And your mom?

What about me?

Convenient, no?

Now that you have down pat, let’s move on to and its mysterious power.

The power of

There's this notion in Chinese that one shouldn't be too direct or upfront, to avoid placing the other in an uncomfortable situation, where they might risk losing face.

An easy way to avoid that? Use .

This convenient particle is placed at the end of sentences, to either indicate what you're saying is a suggestion and by no mean an order, or simply to soften your speech, or to concede.

We owe you a lucky cat if you don't start hearing everywhere in Chinese the moment you learn it.

Structure for suggesting

Command +

This use of is very similar to how in English we would use "let's". It just makes your sentence sound more like a suggestion.


Let’s go for a walk.

。Give me two (please).

Let’s go.

You go.

我们 旅游
Let's travel!

我们 明天 跑步
It's too late now, let's go running tomorrow.

咱们 吃饭
Let’s go eat!

Structure for Softening speech

The particle is also used to soften the feel of a sentence. This is particularly useful when you need to make your sentence more polite, gentler or less forceful.

Statement +


Hurry up.

It’s too expensive, I’m not buying that.

Forget it.

Structure for conceding

can also be used to show you're accepting to do something or agreeing to something that you're not particularly happy about.

Statement +


Alright, let's go there together.

现在 吃饭
Ok, let's go eat now. (You would’ve liked to finish what you were doing first but ok, you’ll go eat).

Lastly, in a question, adding usually shows that you're expecting a positive answer.

Are you okay?

(expected answer) 没事儿
I'm okay.

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