When simply reflecting if a statement is correct or not, we can use:
- [yes] 對 / 是
- [no] 不 / 不對 / 不是
An interesting confusion
You might have encountered confusions when a native Chinese answers your questions in English. Sometimes, you might not know if they agree with you or not.
This is because while English speakers’ YES- or NO- answer defines the subsequent statement affirmative or negative, Chinese speakers’ YES- or NO- answer refers to whether the question was a correct statement or not.
For example in English you might ask:
|Q. Are you not going to the party tonight?
|A. Yes, I am going.
||答：對, 我不去。(literally: Yes, I’m not going.)
|A. No, I’m not going.
||答：不, 我會去。(literally: No, I am going.)
Note that the Yes & No are inverted .
Here is another example:
|Q. It wasn’t you who drew the picture?
|A. Yes, it was me.
||答：對, 不是我畫的。(literally: Yes, I didn’t draw it.)
|A. No, it wasn’t me.
||答：不，那是我畫的。(literally: No, it was indeed me.)
Furthermore, 不 or 沒 are not the only words that means “no”. Other commonly used words include:
- 非 - such as 是非題 which means “Yes or no questions”
- 否 - such as 是否 (whether or not) / 否定 (to negate) / 否則 (if not)
As we can see, the simplicity of ‘yes’ and ‘no’ in the English language is not conserved in the Chinese language. But do not feel intimidated by this - practice makes perfect!