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我们要怎么去机场?

The translation given is "How do we get to the airport?", but since 怎么 can also mean "why", can this sentence also be translated as "Why are we going to the airport?"

I'm probably missing something which makes this a silly question.

  • 1
    怎么 can have the sense of "how is it that, how come",hence mean "why",e。g。怎么没(不)做某事(采取某行动)例句:(iciba, baidu)你昨天怎么没来? Why didn't you come yesterday? 他~还不回来 – user6065 Mar 15 '15 at 23:55
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    我们要怎么去机场 is not ambiguous, but if you remove 要, i.e. 我们怎么去机场, now it becomes ambiguous:) – NS.X. Mar 16 '15 at 0:11
  • @NS.X. That's also quite interesting, 要 is one of those special characters which just seem to be everywhere and change everything,, >_> – dr Hannibal Lecter Mar 16 '15 at 0:45
  • First comment did not agree that 怎么 in given sentence is ambiguous,it would seem that context makes clear whether 怎么 means "how" or "how is it that","how come"。 If simply "how" does not make sense it may have to be completed to "how come"。 see above example "你怎么没做某事"。 – user6065 Mar 16 '15 at 0:51
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I am a native Chinese speaker. This sentence is not ambiguous to me at all. Here the "怎么" clearly means "how" to me.

But if you switch "要" and "怎么",then the sentence will be like:

我们怎么要去机场?

Here "怎么" means "why". This sentence sounds to me like that you have a guest coming by train but your boss asks you to go to the airport to pick him up.

Hope this helps.

  • I like that! Very interesting! – Pedroski Mar 16 '15 at 0:09
  • Indeed, very interesting about the switch! – dr Hannibal Lecter Mar 16 '15 at 0:42
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    Before the switch, the question is on the latter part of the sentence - 怎么去机场, thus "how" to get to the airport. After switched, the question then applies on the first part of the sentence 我们怎么要, thus "why" we've to get to the airport. – Alex Mar 16 '15 at 21:35
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The position of 要 is very important to understand this sentence.

我们要怎么去机场?--> We 要(will) 怎么(how) to going to the airport? -We already decided that we will go to the airport. So "怎么" can only be explained as how.

我们怎么要去机场?--> We 怎么(why) 要(will) go to the airport? -"怎么" questions the willingness of going to the airport.

But when it comes to 我们怎么去机场? You need contexts to understand the meaning. Or for oral language you can distinguish them by the stress: stress on 怎么 itself means how, on airport means why.

  • Very nice explanation, I assumed the position of 要 is the key here, so it's nice to have a confirmation! – dr Hannibal Lecter Mar 28 '15 at 22:06
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There are no silly questions, just pedants! On good authority I have it, that if you want to say why are we going, you will use '我们为什么去机场?‘ 或者 ‘我们为什么要去机场?’

我们要怎么去机场。 How will we get to the airport?

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I think some are confused between making sentence with "怎么" and "怎么样".

"怎么" should means "why" and "怎么样" should means "how". The structuring of the sentence is thus very important, else it would be a "broken sentence".

怎么我们去机场? - Why do we go to airport?

我们怎么去机场? - Might sound correct as "How do we go to the airport?" but in actual fact it should be structure as "我们怎么样去机场?"

This is because of fast pronouncation of this sentence, which makes it sound like "我们怎么去机场?" or "我们怎样去机场?". Thus in a long run, people tend to say so.

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The ambiguity that I see in the expression 我们要怎么去机场?is to do with what it is that the person is asking for, and normally this would be revealed in the context of the conversation.

But on the basis of the text by itself, I think it still means "How do we/How are we going to get to the airport?"

However, it is not so clear whether the person is wanting to know the path/direction or if they want to know the means by which you'll get to the airport (e.g. by car or train).

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