19 (and More) Ways to Say Yes in Mandarin
Yes/no questions are an essential component of any language, and Mandarin is no different. They’re some of the most common questions you’ll ever get when you start practicing your Mandarin conversation—and ideally the easiest to answer (as long as you know all the ways to say “yes,” that is!)
In this article, we cover the most common ways to say yes in Mandarin.
Yes, there’s more than one way to say yes, depending on the situation, context and even who’s asking the question—not to mention what’s the question!
So you’ll want to learn all the ways to say “yes” so you always sound natural and even impress native speakers!
Let’s get started.
1. 是 / shì
Probably the first word for “yes” that Mandarin students learn is 是 (shì), which can lead to some confusion. The confusion lies in that shì doesn’t literally mean “yes,” but rather, it means “it is.” Yes, it’s the same shì as “to be,” as in 我是学生 / Wǒ shì xuéshēng / I’m a student. When used on its own, it’s an affirmative statement to any yes/no question, as in:
Nǐ shì lǎoshī ma?
Are you a teacher?
Yes. (Literally “it is.”)
Keep shì handy for whenever you want to give a quick confirm.
2. 是的 / shì de
Just like shì, 是的 (shì de) is another one to use whenever you want to confirm a fact. You can also use shì de as a sentence interjection to let the speaker know that you’re listening (in this case it works more like uh-huh). Here’s an example of how to use it:
Wǒ tīng shuō táiwān rén hěn xǐhuān ná hóngbāo, shì zhèyàng ma?
I heard that Taiwanese people like to receive red envelopes, is that right?
Yes, it is (right.)
3. 对 / duì
对 (duì) is another way to say yes. But it can also serve as a “no” answer, so watch out for this one. In the same way that you could answer yes to a negative in English, you could use duì to mean yes or no, depending on the question. Confused? It’s simple—with duì you’re essentially just affirming whatever is being said.
Nǐ shì xuéshēng ma?
Are you a college student
(Note that you can also say shì or shì de here.)
And you can also affirm a negative, as in:
Nǐ bùshì xuéshēng ma?
You’re not a college student?
4. 行 / xíng
行 (xíng) is a word whose etymological origins are associated with movement, walking, traveling or going, and it pretty much can stand in for the English “ok” as when you’re confirming you can do something. When you use xíng, just like “ok,” you’re essentially moving toward some action.
There can also be a level of excitement to it, as when someone asks you out on a date and you say xíng!
Use xíng when you’re pleased about saying yes to something. You can also use xíng for giving permission for something, like:
wǒ kěyǐ jiè nǐ de chē ma？
Can I borrow your Tesla?
5. 好吧 / hǎo bɑ
好吧 (hǎo bɑ), on the other hand, is a way to say yes when you’re not so thrilled about what you’re saying yes to. So make sure not to say this when someone invites you out on a date!
It’s the “yes” your teenager begrudgingly says when you tell them to be home by midnight, or when your spouse tells you to take out the trash. You’ll do it, but you won’t necessarily enjoy it.
Its close English equivalent is “ok, fine” but accompanied with a less than thrilled expression.
Let’s eat sushi today!
Wǒmen jīntiān chī shòusī ba!
Wǒ xiǎng chī niúpái.
I want to have steak.
Kěshì wǒmen tiāntiān chī niúpái, jīntiān chī diǎn bù yīyàng de.
But we eat steak every day, and today we have something different.
Ok then, fine.
6. 好啊 / hǎo a
Unlike hǎo bɑ, 好啊 (hǎo a) is an enthusiastic way to say yes. It’s an empathetic yes, almost like the English “yeah!” or “sure!”
Wǒmen jīntiān chī shòusī ba!
Let’s eat sushi today!
You really like sushi, in this case, so you say:
7. 好的 / hǎo de
Use 好的 (hǎo de) when you want to say yes without hesitating. It’s a good one to use when someone asks something of you that you’re sure you can do. You can also use hǎo de to express your understanding or rationale behind something.
It’s like saying “sure,” “ok,” and “got it,” so it’s a versatile one you’ll want to keep in your response arsenal.
Wǒmen wǎnshàng 8 diǎn zài shòusī cāntīng jiànmiàn ma?
We’ll meet at the sushi restaurant at 8pm?
8. 好了/ hǎo lе
If you’re invited to go eat sushi, you wouldn’t say 好了(hǎo lе), unless your friend has been asking you the same question and you’ve been ignoring them for some time, in which case you could.
That’s because hǎo lе means yes but more like “yes, okay, I heard you.”
When your significant other keeps nagging you to clean up your dirty gym socks, you can also say:
hǎo lе…hǎo lе…hǎo lе
ok..ok..ok… I heard you.
But you can also use hǎo lе in a professional setting to affirm that you’re ready to perform at your A game, like when your boss asks you if you’re ready to lead that meeting on the company’s quarterly financials. In this case, you can say hǎo lе to mean: “Yes, I’m ready.”
Add Your Heading Text Here
9. 有 / yǒu
有 (yǒu) literally means “to have,” so you use it as a yes response when the question is about having something. As in:
Nǐ yǒu Tesla ma?
Do you have a Tesla?
If it sounds strange that you would respond to that question with a literal “I have,” think about whether you would really answer that question in English with a flat out “yes.”
You probably would say something more along the lines of “yes, I have one,” or “yes, I do” and then go on and on about all the cool Tesla features because…why wouldn’t you—you have a Tesla!
But anyway, the point is that in Mandarin, if the question has the verb 有yǒu in it, then you use 有 yǒu as the “yes” or affirmative to that question.
By the way, 沒有 méi yǒu would be the negative answer.
10. 可以 / kě yǐ
Use 可以 / kě yǐ when you want to say that “yes, something is possible” or that you are willing to do something for someone. It literally means to be able to and a close cousin to xíng, so it has a very similar use.
In more colloquial English, it’s a lot like saying “you, can do!” or “no problemo!”
nǐ kě yǐ bāng wǒ ma？
Can you help me?
Just like xíng, you can also use kě yǐ to grant someone permission to do something.
11. 可以啊 / kě yǐ a
可以啊 (kě yǐ a) is similar to kě yǐ except that there is a little more excitement behind it. It’s like a “sure!” or “that sounds great!” or “let’s do this!”
12. 没问题 / méi wèn tí
没问题 (méi wèn tí) literally means “no problem.” Use it when you’re cool with getting something done or accepting a request without question. It’s pretty much just like the English “not a problem.”
You can also say méi wèn tí to express that you totally understood something thoroughly, almost like the English “all good.”
Lǎoshī: Tóngxué, nǐmen yǒu wèntí ma?
Teacher: Classmates, do you have any questions?
Tóngxué: Méi wèntí.
Classmate: All good.
13. 沒關系 / méi guān xi
沒關系 (méi guanxi) literally means “no relation,” from which one can extrapolate “no causation” or “no matter.” In common speech it pretty much means “it doesn’t matter” as in “it’s ok” or “it’s fine.”
In everyday Mandarin conversation, it’s used pretty much just like its English equivalents “no worries” (or the more formal “not to worry”) or “it’s all good” to express permission or to say that something is basically ok.
You can also use méi guanxi along with méi wèn tí to sound even more natural in some cases, as in:
Bù hǎoyìsi, wǒ jīntiān yào qǔxiāo yuēhuì, wǒde māomī shēngbìngle.
Sorry, I need to cancel our date today, my cat is sick.
Méi guānxì. Méi wèntí.
No worries. All good.
14. 没错 / méi cuò
没错 (méi cuò) is the “yes” you say to mean something is correct, or that you agree with something someone just said. It literally means “no error,” but in everyday conversation it can be used like its English equivalent “that’s right!” or just “right.”
With the right intonation, it can also mean “right on!”
15. 正确 / zhèng què
Not as common in everyday conversation, 正确 (zhèng què) means “yes” as in “yes, that’s the correct answer,” like on a test.
Nǐ de huídá shì zhèngquè de.
Your answer is correct.
But you can also use zhèng què when you think someone made a correct choice outside of a test or exam.
16. 嗯 / ēn
We already covered 嗯 (ēn) in our article on Mandarin sentence interjections and filler words, but a little refresher can’t hurt, right?
You can always use ēn as a quick affirmative that means something like “yup.”
17.当然 / dāng rán
This is another phrase we covered in the article on Mandarin conversation interjections, but one that’s also worth reviewing as it’s so common in everyday use.
If you recall, dāng rán means “of course,” and you can use it to say “yes” like when you say “of course” or “sure thing!”
For an even more emphatic affirmative, you can even pair it up with kě yǐ to say 當然可以 dāng rán kěyǐ as in “of course, sure thing!” or “yes, of course!”
18.妥妥的 / tuǒ tuǒ de
妥妥的 (tuǒ tuǒ de) is probably the least common way to say “yes” than any of the others on this list, but it basically means “all ready,” as in:
Wǒmen jīntiān yào gēn dà gōngsī kāihuì, nǐmen dōu zhǔnbèi hǎole ma?
We are going to have a meeting with a big company today. Are you all ready?
Méi wèntí, tuǒ tuǒ de.
No problem, we are all ready.
19. The wild card
The easiest and most natural way to say yes in Mandarin is to repeat the main verb or adjective in the question. Just pay attention to what that verb or adjective is, and give it right back!
Nǐ yǒu gǒu ma?
Do you have a dog?
I have. (As in “yes, I have a dog.”)
Zhè jiàn chènshān jǐn ma?
Is this shirt tight (on me)?
Tight. (As in “yes, it’s tight on you.”)
Bonus Round! More Emotive Ways to Say Yes
So now that you know the most common ways to say yes in Mandarin, let’s flip things around for a bonus round!
Here are 12 other ways you can say yes with more emotion behind it:
You could say 太棒了(tài bàng le) or 太好了 (tài hǎo le) to really say yes like you mean it!
2. hell yeah!
Here you could use 喔(o) or 是的 (shì de) for a very passionate yes.
When you want to say something is really obvious, the english equivalent of “duh!”, you can say 恩..是阿! (ēn…shì a!)
You could say 對 (duì!), 對阿 (duì a!!!), 就是 (jiùshì!!!!!), and 沒錯méicuò!!!!!!!! You can always add more excitement behind it to really express your enthusiasm!
When you want to agree with a lot of emphasis, you can say 真的 zhēnde !!!!!!!
When you want to sound a little more sophisticated, you can use 的確 (díquè) as an affirmative statement, very much like the English “indeed” or “surely.” You may even say 的确是 (Díquè shì) as in “Yes, indeed,” as you peer out from your monocle.
7. sure, why not?
When you can’t think of any reason to not say yes, you could say:
Shì a, wèishénme bù xíng?
Yes, why not?
When you want to say yes in a very laid-back way, you can simply say 酷 (kù) as you nonchalantly slide your shades on.
9. you’re on!
To accept a challenge you can’t refuse, you can say 換你了(huàn nǐ le) or 到你了(dào nǐ le).
10. roger that!
When you hear something loud and clear, you can say 好的 (hǎo de),
收到 (shōudào) or 明白 (míngbái).
11. yeah right!
When you want to say yes but you don’t really believe something someone just said, you can say 是喔 (shì o) with a sarcastic tone.
12. you’re going to go tomorrow, yes?
When you want to add a yes at the end of a sentence to confirm if what you just said is true or correct, you can add 對嗎 (duì ma?), 是嗎 (shì ma?), 是不是 (shì búshì?) or 對不對 (duì búduì?).
There you have it, the most common ways to say yes in almost every possible situation and Yes/No question that can be thrown at you. Yes isn’t as simple as you thought, right?!
Well, it really just takes practice to get a feel for which way to say yes is right for every context. And the more you hear them in conversations, the more natural they’ll feel when you use them yourself.
As always, one of the best ways to get in your essential Mandarin conversation practice is over at the Mandarin Monkey Hangouts. See you there!