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.

4 Answers 4


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. =>

So for the original sentence,

Is it really so that you're just 18? =>
Are you really just 18? =>
  • 2
    An alternate expression: "你当真只有18岁?"
    – Kabie
    Commented Jul 3, 2012 at 4:18

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?".

  • 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. Commented Jul 3, 2012 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
    Commented Jul 3, 2012 at 6:44
  • Yes, the <Strong> mark worked. I've edited my answer. Commented Jul 3, 2012 at 11:48

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?


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


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.

  • 你是18岁 sounds awkward. Maybe “你才18岁”?
    – gonnastop
    Commented Jul 3, 2012 at 14:13

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