How to say yes in Chinese?
In English, the word “yes” is used consistently to express agreement or approval. “Do you want to go to the movies with me?” “Yes.” “Do you like chocolate ice cream?” “Yes.” “Is this your lost wallet?” “Yes!”
In Chinese, however, there several different ways to express agreement or approval. If you are just beginning your study of the Chinese language, you may assume that the positive answer to any question is 是 (shì). But it’s just not that simple. After you have been communicating with Chinese people for a while, you may be surprised to find that they frequently express “yes” in various ways and that there is really no direct equivalent of “yes” in Chinese.
Here, I list 10 useful expressions for conveying “yes” in Mandarin Chinese. These affirmative expressions are all commonly used in everyday life, so if you can master them, you will soon sound like a native speaker.
1. 是的 (shìde)
A:你是XXX吗？(nǐ shì XXX ma?)
Are you XXX?
A:你是美国人吗？(nǐ shì měi guó rén ma?)
Are you American?
3. 有 (yǒu)
A:你有狗吗？(nǐ yǒu gǒu ma?)
Do you have a dog?
B:有,我有三只。(yǒu, wǒ yǒu sān zhī.)
Yes, I have 3.
4. 对 (duì)
A:你是不是很喜欢狗？(nǐ shì bú shì hěn xǐ huān gǒu?)
You really like dogs, yeah?
5. 好 (hǎo a)
A:你明天下午和我吃饭，好不好？(nǐ míng tiān xià wǔ hé wǒ chī fàn ，hǎo bù hǎo ？)
Do you want to get lunch with me tomorrow afternoon?
B:好啊。吃什么？(hǎo a. chī shén me?)
Sure. What do you want to eat?
6. 没错 (méi cuò)
A:我觉得Monica喜欢Alan。(wǒ jué dé Monica xǐ huān Alan.)
I think Monica is into Alan.
B:没错, 我也觉得！(méi cuò , wǒ yě jué dé.)
Exactly, I think so too!
7. 没问题 (méi wèn tí)
A:你能帮我买一杯拿铁吗？(nǐ néng bāng wǒ mǎi yī bēi ná tiě ma?)
Can you buy me a latte?
B:没问题，大杯的？(méi wèn tí, dà bēi de?)
No problem. Grande?
8. 行 (xíng)
A:我明天给你钱行不行？(wǒ míng tiān gěi nǐ qián xíng bú xíng?)
Can I give you the money tomorrow?
9. 可以 (kě yǐ)
A:我可以进来吗？(wǒ kě yǐ jìn lái ma ?)
May I come in?
B:可以。 (kě yǐ)
10. 当然 (dāng rán)
A:你喜欢男人吧？(nǐ xǐ huān nán rén ba ?)
You like men, right?
11. 妥妥的 (tuǒ tuǒ de)
A:这个工作就交给你了。(zhè gè gōng zuò jiù jiāo gěi nǐ le.)
This task is handed over to you then.
B:妥妥的。(tuǒ tuǒ de.)
One more thing to consider: In Chinese, there are mainly two types of yes or no questions. One is “main statement + 吗 (ma)?”, and the other is “subject + V不(bu)V + ……?” To answer questions such as these in the affirmative, all you need to do is to repeat the key word. (Key words can be modal verbs such as 能 (néng)，会 (hùi)，可以 (kě yǐ), normal verbs such as 吃 (chī)，喝 (hē)，睡 (shùi), or adjectives such as 好(hǎo)，新(xīn)，丑(chǒu) etc.)
Here are some examples:
A: 你吃不吃水果？(nǐ chī bù chī shuǐ guǒ?)
Do you want to eat fruit or not?
Yes, I want to eat!
Now you know there are many different ways to express “yes” in Chinese, all of which reflect the wonderful variety of the language. Will you be able to use these different expressions to communicate fluently with your Chinese friends?
当然 (dāng rán)!