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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Wed, 15 Jul 2020 07:00:00 GMT
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