4 Ways to Use the Chinese Phrase “zenme yang”

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怎么样 (zěnme yàng) is a versatile little phrase in Mandarin Chinese.

You’re probably familiar with 怎么 (zěnme, how? / how come?), but as soon as you add 样 (yàng), the meanings multiply – and that can be confusing. For example, 怎么样 can be used to ask for an opinion, or in the negative form to state that something is not all that good.

This post includes 4 ways to use 怎么样 like a native Chinese speaker.

From Pinterest

 

Firstly, let’s look at the character breakdown:

  • 怎 / zěn / what? why? how?
  • 么 / me / interrogative particle
  • 样 / yàng / shape, form, pattern, manner

So we can see this word relates to the “how” or “what” or “manner” of something. Granted that’s a bit abstract, so below are 4 ways to actually use it in a sentence:

1. How’s it going?

A common way to make small talk, 怎么样 can be used as an informal way to ask:

Zěnmeyàng?

怎么样?
How’s it going?

 

Nǐ zuìjìn zěnmeyàng?

你最近怎么样?
How have you been lately?

 

Zuìjìn shēngyì zěnmeyàng?

最近生意怎么样?
How’s business lately?

2. What do you think? How about it?

When you want someone’s opinion, add 怎么样 at the end of a sentence:

Nǐ juéde tā zěnmeyàng?

  • 你觉得她怎么样?What do you think of her?
  • Tā zuò de zěnmeyàng?
  • 他做得怎么样How did he do? / How well did he do?
  • Xīn kāi de cāntīng nǐ juéde zěnmeyàng?
  • 新开的餐厅你觉得怎么样?What did you think of the new restaurant?
  • Zhè ge bókè nǐ juéde zěnmeyàng?
  • 这个博客你觉得怎么样?What do you think of this blog?
  • Gēn wǒ yīqǐ qù, zěnmeyàng?
  • 跟我一起去,怎么样?How about we go together?

    From Electrical Online

3. It’s not up to much

You can add 不 (bù) to negate 怎么样 in order to state that something is “not up to much” or “not too good” (in this case, it’s not a question). For example:

  • 这本小说不怎么样
    Zhè běn xiǎoshuō bù zěnmeyàng.
    This novel isn’t up to much.
  • 他画得也并不怎么样
    Tā huà de yě bìng bù zěnmeyàng.
    He’s really not much of a painter.

    From Pinterest

4. Drop the 么 /me

On the Mainland, most people say 怎么样 but you’ll also hear 怎样, especially in Tawain. 怎样 can be used interchangeably with 怎么样.

From Food and Wine Magazine

 


We hope this clarifies the usages of 怎么样 and gives you the confidence to go use it for yourself. 怎么样 is quite colloquial – use it with friends and co-workers and in your daily life to ask opinions and make small talk!

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