Use a Model Verb "néng"
Learn how to use a model verb “néng”to make a request or seek for permission to perform an action in Mandarin Chinese.
The grammatical structure we learn today is:
Subject + "能, néng" + Verb + "吗, ma"?
It is one of interrogative sentence structures.
"能, néng" means "can" or "may". It is a modal verb to make a request or seek for permission to perform an action.
"吗, ma" is a question word to indicate an interrogative mood. "吗, ma" is put at the end of a declarative sentence to turn it into a question. “ma” is pronounced in a neutral tone in such a case.
For an example,
wǒ néng zuò zhèr ma?
Can I sit here?
In this question sentence,
"我, wǒ" is a subject, means “I”.
"能, néng" is a modal verb, means “can” or “may”.
"坐, zuò" is a verb, means “to sit”.
"这儿, zhèr" is a pronoun, means “here”.
"吗, ma" is a question word.
When putting them together, "我能坐这儿吗, wǒ néng zuò zhèr ma?" means “Can I sit here?”.
Let’s see more examples,
wǒ néng yòng nǐ de bǐ ma?
Can I use your pen?
tā néng qù pài duì ma?
Can she go party?