As a Chinese who has been learning English for almost 9 years, I still find that English is a tricky language for me to master. Apart from its seemingly endless vocabulary, different grammatical structures and tenses, I have to adjust to my response to some questions according to English logical thinking style. In contrast, there might be the same problems for students who are learning Chinese as a foreign language. For me, the most confusing one is this situation:

English Pattern                     

A: You don’t like Chinese?      

B: No (I don’t like it).     

Chinese Pattern


B:是的,我不喜欢汉语。(Yes, I don’t like Chinese)

When A asks “你不喜欢汉语吧?” the sentence conveys that A is guessing or conjecturing as to B’s fancies. As such, 是的(yes) is the initial response for A’s conjecture, then followed by a fuller answer to the question posed (see above). However, in English, the answer “yes” or “no” is often used to directly answer the question.  It is rare, among native English speakers, to see an amalgamated approach like the Chinese one which consists of two affirmations.  For a non-native English speaker, inferring the meaning from just a single affirmation without a follow-up sentence is a little confusing.  I guess it’s just another reason why we need extra patience when dealing with our foreign friends.   



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