According to tatoeba translation of "Is there anything you want to buy?" is "想要买什么东西吗?" Is there use of 什么 and 吗 in one sentence? If there is not how can I translate"Is there anything you want to buy?" better?



1 Answer 1


The 吗 is a modal to make the question more polite. Its also grammatically correct to say just 你要买什么? which directly translates as What do you want to buy? But it is a bit brusque.

  • Adding 吗 makes it a yes/no question, and 什么 in this context is used as an indefinite pronoun, rather than as a relative one: it means something (or other), not what? in the sentence given in the question. The expected answer to 你想买什么东西? would be something like 一件衣服 or 一本书, for example. The expected answer to 你想买(点)什么东西吗? would be 想 or 不想. Mar 1, 2015 at 20:54
  • relative or interrogative?in the case of interrogative pronoun instead of 吗, 呢 is recommended
    – user6065
    Mar 1, 2015 at 21:11

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