Two Ways of Using 吧 bɑ

1. Indicating a suggestion or a request

In English, when the speaker wants to propose a suggestion, rather than a direct command, they may preface their suggestion or request with a “Let’s…” E.g.: Let’s go and play football. Let’s start! In Chinese, a suggestion or a request is given by adding 吧 to the end of a sentence.

S Adv. V/VP
wǒmen wǒmen bɑ!
我们 吃饭 吧!

Let’s eat!

wǒmen mínɡtiān qù kàndiànyǐnɡ bɑ!
我们 明天 去看电影 吧!

Let’s go to see a film tomorrow!

wǒmen kuàidiǎn’ér kuàidiǎn’ér bɑ!
我们 快点儿 吧!

Let’s go faster!

2. Indicating a supposition

In English, when one wants to seek the confirmation of the truth of his statement, they do this by means of a “tag question”. E.g.: You are Mr. Wang, aren’t you? You are not busy, are you? In Chinese, a “tag question” is expressed by adding 吧 to the end of the sentence.

S V/VP 吧?
dǒnɡ bɑ?
吧?

You know (it), don’t you?

rènshiwǒ bɑ?
认识我 吧?

You know me, don’t you?

bùmánɡ bɑ?
不忙 吧?

You are not busy, are you?

nín shì lǐlǎoshī bɑ?
是李老师 吧?

You are Miss(Teacher) Li, aren’t you?

zhèɡebāo búshì nǐde bɑ?
这个包 不是 你的 吧?

This bag is not yours, is it?

Besides 吧, a “tag question” can also be made by adding “对不对duì bú duì” or “是不是shì bú shì” to the end of the sentence. Both of these two phrases have the meaning of “right? / isn’t that correct?” E.g.:

nǐ rènshi wǒ, duìbúduì?

你 认识 我, 对不对?

You know me, right?

nín shì lǐlǎoshī, shìbúshì?

您 是 李老师,是不是?

You are Miss(Teacher) Li, isn’t that correct?

Have a question? Join us in the discussion below!