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4 Ways to Use 吧 (ba) in Mandarin Chinese

When you’re first learning Chinese, you learn that 吧 (ba) is used to turn a statement into a suggestion. Easy enough, right? But you’ll soon find that isn’t the only way that 吧 (ba) is used!

This tends to trip up many students along the learning journey, but don’t worry! To set the record straight, we’ve created this infographic listing out the main 4 ways that 吧 (ba) is used in Chinese. 

Right click and save the image to your device for easy reference, or download a printer-friendly pdf version here!

Alright, now let’s go ahead and check out each of these uses one by one!

#1: Used to indicate a suggestion

When you’re giving a suggestion, it’s highly advisable to add 吧 (ba) at the end of the sentence. Otherwise, it will sound more like an order than a friendly suggestion. 

You definitely don’t want to make that mistake with your superiors or in-laws!


  • 我们走吧!(wǒ men zǒu ba) - Let’s go! / Let’s leave!
  • 我们明天一起吃晚饭吧!(wǒ men míng tiān yì qǐ chī wǎn fàn ba) - Let’s have dinner together tomorrow!
  • 你跟他说一下吧。(nǐ gēn tā shuō yí xia ba) - Let him know. (polite)

Like in the third example above, you’ll also often see 吧 (ba) used with a phrase that softens the tone, like 一下 (yí xia) or doubling the verb, which makes it sound extra polite.

You can learn more about using 吧 (ba) for suggestions in our Beginner course with this lesson, and we cover softening the tone in Chinese in this lesson.

#2: Used to indicate agreement or approval 

This next use of 吧 (ba) communicates agreement or approval of something, but it also has a bit of reluctance to it. 

It is most often used following the words 好 (hǎo) - "OK" and 行 (xíng) - “alright”. Adding 吧 (ba) this way can be a bit similar to the tone of “fine” in English, though not quite as harsh. 

Again, this use of 吧 (ba) is something you’ll want to avoid saying to your boss! Just say 好的 (hǎo de) or 好 (hǎo) for “OK” and you’re golden!


  • 好吧。明天也行。(hǎo ba míng tiān yě xíng) - OK. Tomorrow works too. / Fine. Tomorrow works too.
  • 行吧。我们只能这样了。(xíng ba wǒ men zhǐ néng zhè yàng le) - Alright. That’s all we can do. / Fine. That’s all we can do.

You can learn more about this 吧 (ba), and get a review of a few of the other uses from this post, in this lesson of our Upper Intermediate Course.

#3: Used to indicate uncertainty or guess about something

This is a VERY common use of 吧 (ba), which you’ll see a lot in questions as well as statements. This use of 吧 (ba) is used to communicate some level of uncertainty, or to make an educated guess about something. 

You can use it when you’re somewhat certain about something, but not 100% sure.


  • 你会说普通话吧?(nǐ huì shuō pǔ tōng huà ba) - You speak Mandarin, right?
  • 他明年就要毕业了,对吧?(tā míng nián jiù yào bì yè le duì ba) - He is graduating next year, right?
  • 应该没什么问题吧。(yīng gāi méi shén me wèn tí ba) - There shouldn’t be any issues.

Check out this lesson to learn more about this use of 吧 (ba)

#4: Used to indicate a pause when weighing options/making comparisons  

Note: In this case, the “ba” is usually repeated twice.

  • 夏天去北京吧,天气会很热,冬天去北京吧,天气会很冷。(xià tiān qù běi jīng ba, tiān qì huì hěn rè, dōng tiān qù běi jīng ba, tiān qì huì hěn lěng) - If we go to Beijing in the summer, the weather will be hot. If we go to Beijing in the winter, the weather will be cold. 
  • 跟老板说吧,他会很不开心,不跟老板说吧,公司可能会出大事。(gēn lǎo bǎn shuō ba, tā huì hěn bù kāi xīn, bù gēn lǎo bǎn shuō ba, gōng sī kě néng huì chū dà shì) - If you tell the boss, he won’t be happy. If you don’t tell the boss, the company might run into some big issues.

You can learn more about this structure using 吧 (ba) in this lesson.

Ready to learn more?

That just about wraps up this post on the grammatical uses of 吧 (ba)

挺简单的吧 (tǐng jiǎn dān de ba)? - Pretty simple, right?

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