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.
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This post includes 4 ways to use 怎么样 like a native Chinese speaker.
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:
How’s it going?
Nǐ zuìjìn zěnmeyàng？
How have you been lately?
Zuìjìn shēngyì zěnmeyàng?
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?
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:
Zhè běn xiǎoshuō bù zěnmeyàng.
This novel isn’t up to much.
Tā huà de yě bìng bù zěnmeyàng.
He’s really not much of a painter.
4. Drop the 么 /me
On the Mainland, most people say 怎么样 but you’ll also hear 怎样, especially in Taiwan. 怎样 can be used interchangeably with 怎么样.
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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