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I heard that ba (吧) can be used at the end of a sentence just like ma (吗). Per my understanding, it's not interchangeable with ma (吗) but a more playful way of asking the same question. (Some girl said I should use 吧 when asking her if she wants to go to lunch, idk what that means.)

So, when do you use each of these words? What are the connotations of each?

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1 Answer 1

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Firstly, you are correct... both can be used at the end of a sentence, but they do not have the same meanings.

吗 ma = question particle

吧 ba = suggestive particle

Here's some examples:

你还好吗?(Nǐ hái hǎo ma) Are you okay? 

你还好吧。(Nǐ hái hǎo ba) Come on, you're okay, right? (suggesting that they're okay)

Or, In many cases 吧 is in response to 吗:

Person A: 好吗?Okay?
Person B: 好吧。 Fine...

That girl said you should use ba because she thought you should be more suggestive

我们一起吃饭吧!(Wǒmen yīqǐ chīfàn ba)sounds more assertive than 你想跟我一起吃饭吗?(Nǐ xiǎng gēn wǒ yīqǐ chīfàn ma?)

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1  
On a side note, ba - 吧 and ma - 嘛 are similar, except that makes the user sound like they're upset! –  Question Marks Jul 9 '13 at 21:42
    
My understanding is 吧 can also be used when you expect the answer to be affirmative. For example, when confirming something 你6点下班吧? Similar to the tag question "You finish work at 6, right?" –  tao Jul 11 '13 at 3:14

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