I have a friend who is fond of including "eh?!" in his corresponding, including to native Chinese speakers. An example would be "That's quite a story, eh?!" So my question has several parts:

Is there a Chinese equivalent to "eh?!"

How do native speakers perceive that Chinese equivalent?

How do native speakers perceive the English "eh?!" ?

I am a native English speaker and "eh?!" rubs me the wrong way in English so I'm interested in how native Chinese speakers perceive it.

  • enter "eh?!" into jukuu for 100 sample sentences: 嗯 (native) and refer to Chinese grammar on interjections (see previous question chinese.stackexchange.com/questions/23215/… last of 3 comments by this user: 九、表示追问或出乎意料 :嗯/ng/(语调高扬),表示出乎意料,也可用于追问。
    – user6065
    Apr 20, 2017 at 22:08
  • Your friend must be Canadian, eh? :):)
    – monalisa
    Apr 20, 2017 at 22:34
  • I'm a native English speaker who loves to say "Aiya" :) Great question!
    – DukeZhou
    Apr 21, 2017 at 19:20

2 Answers 2


The role of 'eh?' at the end of a statement is similar to the rhetorical 'isn't it?' or the confirmatory 'right?'

In Cantonese, final particles '呵?'/ho2/ functions the same.

Example :

'呵?'/ho2/ Cantonese only

'he really is a good man.' -- '佢真係個好人.'

'he really is a good man, eh?' -- '佢真係個好人,呵?'(呵?= isn't he? / right?)

'嗯?'/ng2/ for Mandarin and Cantonese also functions the same.

Example :

'he really is a good man.' -- '他真的是個好人'

'he really is a good man, eh? '-- '他真的是個好人, 嗯?'(嗯?= isn't he? / right?)

How do native speakers perceive that Chinese equivalent?

eh? 嗯? and 呵? are just part of a sentence, it is there for good reason.

How do native speakers perceive the English "eh?!" ?

We just interpret 'eh?' as 'isn't it?' or 'right?' which mean the speaker is seeking approval or confirmation about his statement from the listener. That would make the statement sound more asserted

  • Thank you. I know better now how to render it in Chinese. The third and most important part of my three part question is: when native Chinese speakers read "eh?!" in an email in English, how do they react to it. Apr 20, 2017 at 23:06
  • My reaction would be: "he must be a Canadian." Actually, I read just 'eh' as 'isn't it?' or 'right?' which mean the writer is asking for approval or seek confirmation from the reader.
    – Tang Ho
    Apr 20, 2017 at 23:09
  • In email? That's a bit extreme, eh? I think I would eh him back.. Apr 21, 2017 at 5:58

The sound equivalent of eh in mandarin is 哎 or 欸, which usually appears at the start of a sentence, serving the purpose of calling for attention:

哎, 你钱包掉啦! 
Hey, you dropped the wallet!

When it's put on the end of the sentence, it's usually meant to stress the point being made:

I lost my wallet!

Therefore, the sound equivalent of eh in mandarin serves totally different purposes.

The function equivalent phrase in mandarin can sometimes be 嗯?, though I'd like to argue that few mandarin speaker actually say something like 他真的是個好人, 嗯? -- They usually say something like 是吧/对不对 instead. Or, more eloquently:

That's quite a story, eh?

he really is a good man, eh?

Sounds perfectly fine to me. Though if my friend says things like this in every other sentence, I would get annoyed pretty quickly.

A typical Chinese ESL learner would presume that Chinese is the language in which it's normal to end a sentence with an interjection, while English isn't. So That's quite a story, eh?! would strike him as a bit odd and even Chinese-like. If he happens to have Singaporean friends instead of Canadian ones he might even consider it to be Singlish. But that's about all.

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