Expressing the self-evident with "ma"

The particle 嘛 (ma) is a sentence-final particle identical in pronunciation to the simple "yes/no question" particle 吗 (ma) you learned back in the day, but with a rather different function. It can be used when the speaker feels what he is saying is obvious (from his point of view).


Statement + 嘛


  • 你 妹妹 很 漂亮 She's clearly pretty.Nǐ mèimei hěn piàoliang ma.Your sister is pretty.
  • 他 挺 有钱 的 He has shown that's he's rich.Tā tǐng yǒuqián de ma.He is pretty rich.
  • 不 想 去 就 不要 去 Clearly you don't have to.Bù xiǎng qù jiù bùyào qù ma.If you don't wanna go, don't go.
  • 你 别 太 谦虚 Obviously you're being super modest.Nǐ bié tài qiānxū ma.Don't be too modest.
  • 大家 有 话 就 说 Clearly you can just say it.Dàjiā yǒu huà jiù shuō ma.Guys, just say whatever you have to say.
  • 你 跟 他 很 熟 You two are obviously well acquainted.Nǐ gēn tā hěn shú ma.You two know each other well.
  • 开 慢 点 ,安全 第一 We all know: safety first!Kāi màn diǎn, ānquán dì-yī ma.Drive slowly. Safety first.
  • 不用 塑料袋 更 环保 You know you should be eco-friendly!Bùyòng sùliàodài gèng huánbǎo ma.It's more environmentally friendly not to use plastic bags.
  • 这个 外国人 很 了解 中国 文化 He has amazed us all.Zhège wàiguórén hěn liǎojiě Zhōngguó wénhuà ma.This foreigner knows a lot about Chinese culture.
  • 别 担心 ,一边 工作 一边 学 Clearly this takes time to learn.Bié dānxīn, yībiān gōngzuò yībiān xué ma.Don't worry. You can learn as you work.

See also

Sources and further reading