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How do I ask a question like "is it really so that you're just 18?" or "is it really so that the movie was good?", i.e. a surprised question?

My guess is something along the lines of "这是真的,你只有十八岁呢?", but it sounds weird.

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4 Answers 4

up vote 5 down vote accepted

It sounds weird because there is no formal subject (A.K.A. anticipatory subject) in Chinese. It is [X] that [Y] should be transformed into [Y][verb as appropriate][X] during translation。For example:

It is a pleasure to meet you. =>
Meeting you is a pleasure. =>
见到你很高兴。

So for the original sentence,

Is it really so that you're just 18? =>
Are you really just 18? =>
你真的只有18岁?
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Thanks! That does indeed help a lot. –  Quispiam Jul 2 '12 at 22:58
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An alternate expression: "你**当真**只有18岁?" –  Kabie Jul 3 '12 at 4:18
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Generally speaking, "is it really so that…?" should be translate to "...真的...吗?".

The First sentence shuold be "你真的只有18岁?";

And the second should be "这部电影真的好看?".

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Why "你**真的**只有" becomes "你*真的*只有"(只有 is displayed in italics). I must type a space after 你 and before 只有 in order to get bold style correctly. –  Liu Yongtai Jul 3 '12 at 5:18
    
Hi, welcome to this site! As for your question, I've suffered it too, but the moderator Alenanno gave me a good solution-just use the html tag <Strong>words</Strong> to make the words in bold. –  Huang Jul 3 '12 at 6:44
    
Yes, the <Strong> mark worked. I've edited my answer. –  Liu Yongtai Jul 3 '12 at 11:48
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sometimes, the same structure does not mean the same way of translate.

for this question, i will translate as follow

is it really so that you're just 18? 你只有18岁?真的假的!

is it really so that the movie was good? 你确定这部电影还行?

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The way I've had Chinese people express surprise to me is to use 这么. For example:

你是18岁?这么年轻!看不出来!

I realize that this is different than the sentence structure that you gave (and that NS.X. helped clarify) but I find that in my interactions with Chinese, they're more apt to follow their question of disbelief with an exclamation describing their reaction in order to express their surprise.

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你是18岁 sounds awkward. Maybe “你才18岁”? –  gonnastop Jul 3 '12 at 14:13
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