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.
Bounce back questions with 呢
The main use for 呢 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, 呢 is also very close to "how about" or "what about" in English. You'll see, it's a handy little bugger.
Statement/Topic + 呢
Just hang it at the end.
The power of 吧
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 吧.
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 吧 everywhere in Chinese the moment you learn it.
Structure for suggesting
Command + 吧
This use of吧 is very similar to how in English we would use "let's". It just makes your sentence sound more like a suggestion.
Structure for Softening speech
The particle 吧 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 + 吧
Structure for conceding
吧 can also be used to show you're accepting to do something or agreeing to something that you're not particularly happy about.
Statement + 吧
Lastly, in a question, adding 吧 usually shows that you're expecting a positive answer.
(expected answer) 没事儿。
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