How do you say yes in Chinese? If you’ve just started learning Chinese, the simple 是的(shì de) or 对(duì) are probably your initial options. After you have been communicating with Chinese people or watching videos or movies in Chinese, you may realize that there are various ways to convey ‘yes’ in Mandarin Chinese for different situations. In this post, we list 9 methods for expressing agreement or approval in real-life Chinese and teach you useful ways to say yes in Chinese like a native speaker.
A basic word to say yes in Chinese: 是 (的) - shì (de)
Let’s start with the word 是 (shì) which you are likely to know about. If there is the verb 是 (shì) in a yes-no question, its positive answer should be 是 (shì) or 是的 (shì de). For example:
Excuse me, are you Ms. Wang?
Is this thing yours?
The most basic way to say yes in Mandarin: repeat the key Verbs
In a simple question, just use the key verbs to answer, like verbs of thought or feeling, modal verbs, etc. Now let’s look at some examples.
Do you like dogs?
Yes, I do!
Yes, I have three children.
Can you swim?
Yes, I can. How about you?
Will you go to school tomorrow?
Yes, I will.
When someone asksfor permission or help, you want say yes : 可以 (kěyǐ) / 当然 (dāngrán) / 没问题 (méi wèntí)
If someone asks you for permission or help, you can answer with positive words, such as 可以 (kěyǐ) , 当然 (dāngrán), and 没问题 (méi wèntí). 可以 (kěyǐ) means yes; 当然 (dāngrán) means of course; 没问题 (méi wèntí) means no problem. 当然 (dāngrán) and 没问题 (méi wèntí) sound more certain than 可以 (kěyǐ) . 没问题 (méi wèntí) is often used when people ask for help.
Ask for permission:
Can I watch TV?
Yes, you can.
Can I use your pen?
Of course. Here you go.
Ask for help:
Lily, can you help me with this question?
Yes. What are you confused about?
Using 好(hǎo) to express yes in Chinese
好(hǎo) is a positive answer. It can be followed with some modal particles, such as 好啊 (hǎo a), 好的 (hǎo de), 好吧(hǎo ba). But there are subtle differences between them:
If someone is asking for your opinion, the positive answer can be 好 (hǎo) or 好的(hǎo a), and 好啊 (hǎo a) makes the tone more soft and light.
How about pizza for lunch?
If someone is giving an order or a request, the positive answer normally is 好 (hǎo) or 好的(hǎo de). And 好的 (hǎo de) sounds more formal.
Lily, please present a report at the meeting tomorrow.
If what someone says didn’t meet your expectation, but you have to accept, in this case, you should use 好吧 (hǎo ba) to say yes and to show your disappointment.
Okay, just go back and rest up.
Using 行 (xíng) to say yes in spoken Chinese
行 (xíng) is also a positive answer in spoken Chinese. If you’re willing to do something, then you can answer by adding the modal particle 啊(ā) at the end, that is 行啊(xíng a).
The plane tickets are sold out. Can we go by train?
When you agree with someone’s opinion: 对(duì) / 没错(méi cuò)
对(duì) means that’s right; 没错 (méi cuò) means exactly. When you agree with someone’s opinion or show your support, you can use 对(duì) or 没错 (méi cuò) to say yes. For example:
You really like chocolates, don't you?
I think David will still be number one this time.
Yes, I think so too.
Using 嗯(ǹg) to express yes in daily life
嗯 (ǹg) means um, yeah, right. Sometimes, 嗯 (ǹg) can be also used as a positive answer in everyday life. The Chinese people use 嗯 (ǹg) or 嗯嗯(ǹg ǹg) especially when talking to their relatives and friends on the phone. In addition, it can be followed by a sentence or a word. For example:
Lily, did you finish your report?
Our flight is 10 o'clock tomorrow morning, right?
我没意见/ 听你的 - I agree with you. / It’s up to you.
When discussing with other people, if you agree with someone's opinion, then you can use 我没意见(wǒ méi yì jiàn) or 听你的(tīng nǐ de) to give a positive answer. For example:
Each of us takes turns to take care of our parents every month. Do you agree?
Let's go hiking first, then have lunch, and go shopping at night. What do you think?
Repeat word many times to say yes with emotion
Sometime, the native speakers also repeat a word three time to express yes and show their emotion as well. Like 行行行 (xíng xíng xíng), it means someone is annoyed by something.
You have to pour oil first, then put potatoes, and put chicken at last...
Ok ok, got it. Just watch TV!
One more example, 好好好 (hǎo hǎo hǎo) also means someone is annoyed by something.
You should put your clothes in the cupboard, books on the shelf, fruits in the refrigerator.
Ok ok, got it. Just do your things!
Note that if you pronounce the last word longer, 好好好 (hǎo hǎo hǎo), it shows the old spoil the children.
Grandma, I want candies.
Sweetie, I’ll buy it for you.
The last one, 对对对 (duì duì duì) shows a highly agree.
Are you referring to the movie Mulan?
Exactly. Just that movie.
Now, do you know how to say yes properly and fluently in Chinese? If you know other ways to use yes in Chinese or want to share your own ‘yes’ expressions with us, you can tell us in the comments section below. Thanks!
You can also download the MP3 and PDF of this Chinese lesson for on-the-go learning. Don't forget to take the quiz to solidify your knowledge.