Mandarin Grammar

Use of " 是不是 shì bú shì "

Learning Objectives

Learn three ways to make a sentence using " 是不是 shì bú shì ":

  • Put " 是不是 shì bú shì " at the end of a sentence

  • Put " 是不是 shì bú shì " after a subject

  • Put " 是不是 shì bú shì " in front of a subject

Learning Video

Additional Notes

The use of "是不是 shì bú shì " in a sentence is similar to the English "QUESTION TAG", literally in English, meaning "Yes or No".

"是不是 shì bú shì" is often used in a sentence for three purposes:

First, it is used to to verify information or ask for confirmation.

Second, to show surprise in a negative way in order to express unbelievable things.

Third, to ask for help in a polite, indirect and modest way.

Having known the purposes of using "是不是 shì bú shì", we learn how to use it to make a sentence.

Let us see a simple scenario.

On a rainy day, a boy does not bring with an umbrella, her classmate sees him. Actually, she knows her classmate brings with no umbrella, she can say,


nǐ méi dài yǔ sǎn。

You don’t bring an umbrella.

However, for the purpose of offering help in a polite manner, you might find it she says


nǐ méi dài yǔ sǎn , shì bú shì ?

You don’t bring an umbrella, do you?

There are three ways to make a sentence using "是不是 shì bú shì".

1. Put “是不是 shì bú shì” at the end of a sentence:

你没带雨伞,是不是 ?

nǐ méi dài yǔ sǎn , shì bú shì ?

2. Put “是不是 shì bú shì” after a subject:


shì bú shì méi dài yǔ sǎn ?

3. Put “是不是 shì bú shì” in front of a subject:


shì bú shì nǐ méi dài yǔ sǎn?

Let’s see more examples:


shì bú shì míng tiān qù zhōng guó ?

Are you going to China tomorrow, aren't you?


shì bú shì tā zuó tiān lái guò ?

Did she come here yesterday, didn't you?


diàn yǐng bā diǎn kāi shǐ , shì bú shì ?

The film starts at eight, doesn’t it?