Asking for Opinions with “…… zěnmeyàng?”

Once you have mastered the unit, you will be able to use five phrases to respond to the questions “How about …?”.

In addition to being used in response to the greeting “Nǐ hǎo ma? (How are you?),” the phrases “hěn hǎo (very nice),” “hái búcuò (not bad),” “hái kěyǐ (it’s okay),” “bútài hǎo (not so good),” and “bù hǎo (not good)” can be given as answers to questions asking for the speaker’s assessment of a situation or thing/object. For this purpose, we are going to introduce the common expression “…… zěnmeyàng?. Once you have mastered the unit, you will be able to use the five phrases above to respond to these kinds of questions.

Zěnmeyàng(Is it okay? How about it? What do you think? How does that sound?)

Zěnmeyàng” is an interrogative expression and occurs at the end of a statement.

First, “zěnmeyàng” can be used to greet people, as in “()(Zuìjìn) Zěnmeyàng (a)? (How have you been (lately)?)”. (Please feel free to visit “Some Common Responses to the Greeting “How are you?” to practice this part.)

Second, “zěnmeyàng” can be used to ask for the other party’s opinions, like the questions in the video “Tiānqì zěnmeyàng? (How’s the weather?)” and “Zhèijiàn zěnmeyàng? (How/What do you think about this one?).” (jiàn = a measure word for clothing, pants, skirt, etc.) In response to this question, in addition to simply responding “very nice,” “not bad,” “it’s okay,” “not so good,” “not good,” etc., you can also elaborate further.

Responses to “Zhèijiàn zěnmeyàng?”

The intensity of responses to Zhèijiàn zěnmeyàng? (How/What do you think about this one?) ranging from strongly positive to strongly negative is:

+ good

– not good

hěn hǎo

(very good)
hái búcuò

(not bad)
(pretty good)

hái xíng
hái kěyǐ

lǎoyàngzi

(same as usual)
mǎmǎhūhū

(so so)
bútài hǎo

(not so good)
bù hǎo

(not good)
hěn xǐhuān
(like it very much)

bù xǐhuān
(don’t like it)

Hěn hǎo. Wǒ hěn xǐhuān. (Very nice. I like it very much!)
Hái búcuò. Nà wǒ *shìshì (/shìshi). (Not bad. I’ll try it (on).)
Hái kěyǐ. Nà wǒ zài *kànkàn (/kànkan). (It’s OK, but I’ll keep looking.)
*Note that in Mandarin Chinese, some verbs are frequently duplicated (i.e., repeated) so as to give a relaxed, casual sense to the verb and make the tone of the sentence milder and less abrupt. Sometimes a verb is duplicated to indicate that the action is of very short duration, or to imply that what is done is just for the purpose of trying something out. The basic meaning is the same as when they are not duplicated. The second iteration of the verb is often in the neutral tone.

Bútài hǎo. Wǒ bútài xǐhuān. (Not so good. I don’t like it very much.) 
Bù hǎo. Wǒ bù xǐhuān. (Not good. I don’t like it.)
Finally, “zěnmeyàng” follows a statement can be used to ask for feedback from the listener and is equivalent to the English expressions “okay?” or “how about it?,” “What do you think?,” How about it?” and so on, for example, “Xīngqítiān qù, zěnmeyàng? (What about going there on Sunday?),” “Nǐ jiāo wǒ Zhōngwén, zěnmeyàng? (What about you teaching me Chinese?),” “Wǒ xīngqísì wǎnshang qǐng nǐ chīfàn, zěnmeyàng? (How about if I treat you to dinner on Thursday night?)”. You can reply “okay,” “fine,” “sounds good” to a suggestion by saying “hǎo,” “xíng” or “kěyǐ.” You can also indicate that you cannot or do not want to do the suggested action by saying “bù hǎo,” “bù xíng” or “bù kěyǐ.” We will practice these situations soon.

Vocabulary
 (adverb): not, no
búcuò (adjectival verb): not bad
bútài (adverb): not very
hái (adverb): still
hǎo (adjectival verb): fine, good, nice, okay, it’s settled
hěn (adverb) : very
jiàn (measure word): a measure word for dresses, shorts, coats, luggage, matters, etc.
kàn (verb): to see, to look at, to watch
kěyǐ (adjectival verb): passable, not bad, pretty good, good enough
nà (determiner): that; then, in that case
shì (verb): to try
tiānqì (noun): weather
(pronoun): I; me
xǐhuān (verb): to like
yàng (noun): way, appearance, shape
zài (adverb): again
zěnme (question word): how
zhè (determiner): this

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