How to Use 呢 (ne) in Chinese Grammar [Quick Guide]

呢 (ne) is one of the most common particles in Chinese and has a wide rage of uses. It is often used as an interrogative particle at the end of interrogative sentences which include alternative questions, affirmative-negative questions, rhetorical questions and questions with interrogative pronouns. 呢 (ne) can also be used at the end or middle of a statement as a modal particle. This article will give you a detailed explanation of the different uses of 呢 (ne).

Using 呢(ne) at the end of interrogative sentences

1. Using 呢 (ne) at the end of questions with interrogative pronouns

Interrogative pronouns included in such questions are 哪儿(nǎr), 什么(shénme), 怎么(zěnme), 谁(shéi), etc. 呢 is used to ask questions about content expressed by these interrogative pronouns.

For example:

A: 喂,我到了。你在哪儿呢?

Wèi, wǒ dào le. nǐ zài nǎr ne?

Hello, I’m here. Where are you?

B: 我还没到,路上堵车了。

Wǒ hái méi dào, lùshang dǔ chē le.

I haven’t arrived yet. I’m stuck in traffic.


A: 小丽,这一路上你都不说话,在想什么呢?

Xiǎolì, zhè yí lù shang nǐ dōu bù shuōhuà, zài xiǎng shénme ne?

Xiaoli, you didn’t talk along the way. What were you thinking about?

B: 我在想明天的考试。

Wǒ zài xiǎng míngtiān de kǎoshì.

I was thinking about tomorrow’s exam.

Note: Pronoun / noun (phrase) + 呢(ne) to express “what about…”

In a certain context, 呢 can be put after a pronoun or noun (phrase) to form a simple interrogative sentence in which the interrogative pronoun is omitted. Generally speaking, the structure can be used in two ways.

  • Asking a question about the situation mentioned previously. The sentence pattern is “A…… , B呢? ”  The part “B呢” can be translated as “What about B? ”.

Examples:

A: 我有一个妹妹。你呢?

Wǒ yǒu yí ge mèimei. Nǐ ne?

I have a sister. What about you?

B: 我没有妹妹,只有一个弟弟。

Wǒ méiyǒu mèimei, zhǐ yǒu yí ge dìdi.

I have no sister, only one brother.


A: 我是中国人,你是美国人。他呢?

Wǒ shì Zhōngguó rén, nǐ shì Měiguó rén. Tā ne?

I’ m Chinese and you’re American. What about him?

B: 他是加拿大人。

Tā shì Jiānádà rén.

He is Canadian.

  • Use the pattern “Noun (phrase) + 呢(ne)” to ask where something or someone is.

Examples:

A: 我的笔呢?你看到我的笔了吗?

Wǒ de bǐ ne? Nǐ kàndào wǒ de bǐ le ma?

Where is my pen? Have you seen my pen?

B: 在那边的桌子上。

Zài nàbian de zhuōzi shang.

It’s over there on the table.


A: 爸,我妈呢?

Bà, wǒ mā ne?

Dad, where is mom?

B: 在厨房做饭呢。

Zài chúfáng zuòfàn ne.

She is cooking in the kitchen.

2. Using 呢 (ne) in alternative questions with 还是(háishi)

When 呢 is used in an alternative question, it will be placed after the two options provided, which are commonly connected by a “还是(háishi)”. The structure is as below. Sometimes the 呢 after the latter option can be omitted.

Option 1 + 呢还是 + Option 2 (+ 呢)

Examples:

A: 小红,咱们今晚是在家看电影呢,还是去逛街(呢)?

Xiǎohóng, zánmen jīnwǎn shì zài jiā kàn diànyǐng ne, háishi qù guàng jiē (ne)?

Xiaohong, shall we watch a movie at home or go shopping tonight?

B: 随便,我都可以。

Suíbiàn, wǒ dōu kěyǐ.

I’m OK with either.


A: 你什么时候去北京?是明天呢,还是后天(呢)?

Nǐ shénme shíhou qù Běijīng? Shì míngtiān ne, háishi hòutiān (ne)?

When are you leaving for Beijing? Is it tomorrow or the day after tomorrow?

B: 我还没有想好。

Wǒ hái méiyǒu xiǎnghǎo.

I have no idea yet.

3. Using 呢 (ne) in an affirmative-negative question

The structure of an affirmative-negative question is “Verb/Adjective + 不(bù) + Verb/Adjective”. The affirmative-negative question is usually used to seek confirmation or acceptance of what has been said. It is easy to make the listener feel that the questioner is impatient or giving orders. If you want to make it easier for the hearer to accept your question, you can attach 呢 to the end of the question to soften your tone.

Try to compare the following example sentences:

这牛奶你还喝不喝?

Zhè niúnǎi nǐ hái hē bu hē?

这牛奶你还喝不喝呢?

Zhè niúnǎi nǐ hái hē bu hē ne?

Do you still drink this milk?


你明天去不去看电影?

Nǐ míngtiān qù bu qù kàn diànyǐng?

你明天去不去看电影呢?

Nǐ míngtiān qù bu qù kàn diànyǐng ne?

Are you going to the cinema tomorrow?


这样做对不对?

Zhèyang zuò duì bu duì?

这样做对不对呢?

Zhèyang zuò duì bu duì ne?

Should I do it like this or not? 

4. Used at the end of a rhetorical question

As in the affirmative-negative question, 呢 can also be used in a rhetorical question to soften the tone. You can remove 呢 at the end of the question, which will not change the meaning of the whole sentence, but it will make the tone of the question tougher.

Examples:

这么简单的一次考试,你怎么会不及格呢?

Zhème jiǎndān de yí cì kǎoshì, nǐ zěnme huì bù jígé ne?

How could you fail such an easy test?

 

我工资这么低,哪里会有存款呢?

Wǒ gōngzī zhème dī, nǎli huì yǒu cún kuǎn ne?

How can I have savings on such a low salary?

 

事情都已经发生了,你难过又有什么用呢?

Shìqing dōu yǐjīng fāshēng le, nǐ nánguò yòu yǒu shénme yòng ne?

What’s the use of being sad when it has already happened?

Using 呢 (ne) at the end of a statement

1. To state a fact in an exaggerated and indisputable mood

If you want to convince someone of something, you can add a 呢 to the end of the statement, which conveys a tone of affirmation and slight exaggeration. Here 呢 is used as a modal particle.

For example:

A: 我要回去了。

Wǒ yào huíqu le.

I gotta get back.

B: 现在还很早呢,你再坐会儿吧。

Xiànzài hái hěn zǎo ne, nǐ zài zuò huìr ba.

It’s still early. You can stay longer.


A: 你做的这个饼干真好吃!

Nǐ zuò de zhège bǐnggān zhēn hǎochī!

The cookie you made tastes so good!

B: 多吃点,还有很多呢。

Duō chī diǎn, háiyǒu hěn duō ne.

Have some more. There’s plenty left.

2. To indicate an action in progress

Putting 呢 at the end of a statement can also indicate a continuous state, suggesting to pay attention. The common sentence patterns are “正(zhèng)/在(zài)……呢”, “V着(zhe)……呢”, or “……着(zhe)呢”.

Examples:

A: 爸爸怎么了?

Bàba zěnme le?

What’s wrong with dad?

B: 你别去打扰他,他正为了工作的事生气呢。

Nǐ bié qù dǎrǎo tā, tā zhèng wèile gōngzuò de shì shēngqì ne.

He is seething over his work. Don’t bother him.


A: 妈妈,我想去找小丽一起玩。

Māma, wǒ xiǎng qù zhǎo Xiǎolì yìqǐ wán.

Mom, I want to go out with Xiaoli.

B: 外面下着雨呢,等天晴了再去吧。

Wàimiàn xiàzhe yǔ ne, děng tiān qíng le zài qù ba.

It’s raining outside. Why not wait until it clears up?


A: 小明,我们一起去踢足球吧。

Xiǎomíng, wǒmen yìqǐ qù tī zúqiú ba.

Xiaoming, let’s play soccer together.

B: 我不去,忙着呢。

Wǒ bú qù, mángzhe ne.

No. I’m busy.

When 呢(ne) is used in the middle of a statement

When 呢 is used in the middle of a sentence, it usually denotes a pause and draws the listener’s attention to what is said after the pause. Sometimes it comes with a comparative meaning.

Examples:

他喜欢热闹,我呢,喜欢安静。

Tā xǐhuan rènao, wǒ ne, xǐhuan ānjìng.

He likes to be lively, while I like to be quiet.

 

这对双胞胎做着不同的工作。姐姐在一所学校当老师,妹妹呢,在一家公司做会计。

Zhè duì shuāngbāotāi zuòzhe bùtóng de gōngzuò. Jiějie zài yì suǒ xuéxiào dāng lǎoshī, mèimei ne, zài yìjiā gōngsī zuò kuàijì.

The twins have different jobs. The elder sister works as a teacher in a school, while the younger sister works as an accountant in a company.

 

这小姑娘很标致,不过呢,她的言行举止不太招人喜欢。

Zhè xiǎo gūniang hěn biāozhi, bùguò ne, tā de yánxíngjǔzhǐ bú tài zhāo rén xǐhuan.

The little girl is pretty, but she has no perfect manners.

Also Read: How to use 吗 (ma) and 吧 (ba)

How to Use 吗 (ma) in Chinese Grammar

How to Use 吧 (ba) in Chinese Grammar [Quick Guide]



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