Expressing "some" with question words
Chinese question words can play a double role. As we know, they are used in questions, but they can also mean "some." The "some" we refer to is the vague, undefined "some," as in "somewhere," "someone," "something," or "sometime."
"Somewhere" with 哪儿
This one is often used with Verb + 过.
- 这个 人 我 在 哪儿 见 过 。I've met this person somewhere before.
- 这 首 歌 我 在 哪儿 听 过 。I've heard this song somewhere.
- 这 篇 文章 我们 在 哪儿 看 过 。I've read this article somewhere before.
"Someone" with 谁
- 你 让 谁 来 帮 我 一下 。Ask someone to help me with this.
- 这 件 事 我 听 谁 说 过 。I've heard somebody talk about this before.
- 你 找 谁 带 你 进去 吧 。You should find someone to take you inside.
"Something" with 什么
This one is often used with 点(儿) before the verb.
- 我们 应该 做 点儿 什么 。We should do something.
- 老大 ，你 不 说 点儿 什么 ？Boss, aren't you going to say something?
- 我 想 喝 点儿 什么 。I want to drink something.
"Sometime" with 什么时候
Careful with this one! If you're not paying attention, you might think that it's a question asking "when," but in reality it might just be polite noise. If the lack of question intonation isn't enough, the 吧 on the end is also a clue that these sentences aren't actually questions.
- 什么 时候 我们 见面 谈 吧 。Let's meet and talk about this sometime.
- 什么 时候 来 我 新 家 玩 吧 。You should come to my new house to hangout sometime.
- 我们 什么 时候 去 看看 他 吧 。Let's pay him a visit sometime.
Sources and further reading