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So far, question words in Chinese have always appeared at the end.. but with "shei" I saw sentences like "Shei shi nide baba?" So it can be used at the start or end of a sentence? We could say, "Nide baba shi shei?"as well? And also "Shei shi nage ren?" or "Nage ren shi shei?" (Who is that person?)?

Is this restricted to shei or can it be extended to other question words like shenme, zenme, duoshao and nali/nar though words like ma and ne I know are always placed at the end?

Edit:

Ok please see this, it's so confusing:

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  • see grammars (or textbooks, or this site) on "questions in which interrogative pronouns are used" 用疑问代词构成的疑问句:"外国人实用汉语语法" 特点:1。[这种疑问句和陈述的词序完全一样。例如:他在这儿,(陈述句)谁在这儿?("谁"在主语位置上)他在哪儿?("哪儿"在宾语位置上)] [我的自行车坏了。(陈述句)谁的自行车坏了?("谁"在定语位置上)什么坏了?("什么"在主语位置上)哪辆车坏了?("哪"在定语位置上)你的自行车怎么了?("怎么"在谓语位置上)]2。疑问代词放在要求答案的位置上。例如:谁熟悉这里的情况?(要求回答主语"谁")他们贴什么?(要求回答宾语"什么")他怎么了?(要求回答谓语"怎么")你怎么来的?(要求回答状语"怎么")哪个研究生是他推荐的?(要求回答定语"哪")你们省汉语普通话推广得怎么样?(要求回答补语"怎么样")word order of such a question is exactly the same as that of the declarative sentence, i.e. ...interrogative pronoun is in the position where the answer is located, – user6065 Jun 21 '18 at 8:37
  • not at the beginning (except if it is the subject) – user6065 Jun 21 '18 at 8:38
  • declarative sentence (陈述句)习近平 是这个人 question ( 疑问句):谁是这个人? declarative sentence (陈述句) 这个人是习近平,question ( 疑问句):这个人是谁?陈述句:他是你的爸爸,疑问句;谁是你的爸爸? – user6065 Jun 21 '18 at 8:50
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    In my opinion, "这个人" and "那个人" is an indefinite noun - meaning that you may never see this person before, therefore such nouns should be treated as a subject and let "谁" be treated as an object. On the other hand, "你的爸爸" is a definite noun - the person who we are asking about is clear and specific, therefore you may treated this as object or subject. – Reynaldi Jun 21 '18 at 9:58
  • <某人的姓名>是这个人 sounds odd, searching iciba with 是这个人 only yields 1 somewhat relevant example, 而且只要你一直是这个人, perhaps correspondingly 谁是这个人? does not seem very much used, submitting it to bkrs e.g. immediately converts the phrase to 这个人是谁? – user6065 Jun 21 '18 at 13:25
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Chinese is one of the group languages in which question words remain exactly in place of the "questioned" word they replace.

那个人是谁 - 那个人是我妈妈

In English and some other European languages question words always move to the head of the utterance.

Who is this person? This person is my mother.

I highly suspect your examples from Memrise (or whatever that app is) are simply a result of an English speaker (not very fluent in Chinese) translating them to Chinese.

One other explanation:

谁是你爸爸 ~ “which one is your dad"

while

你爸爸是谁 ~ “and who [exactly] is your dad?"

So, at the beginner level, stick to placing question words in the same position the answer would occupy.

  • Thank you so much :) It's duolingo btw.. and no the course has been designed by highly educated native speakers.. You can check it out.. the contributors too.. pretty amazing actually and WAY better than what they teach you in most schools.. it's also a really practical approach to learning a language.. – Isabel Jun 25 '18 at 6:32
  • @Isabel Duolingo have been promising a Chinese course for 5+ years and have finally released something rather average (IMHO). Their methods are good for teaching European languages to Europeans, that's all (again, IMHO) – Vitaly Osipov Jun 25 '18 at 7:17
  • I understand that's your opinion but I personally, and many others, find it extremely helpful.. more than our courses at school which were absolutely useless.. Now I could go to China to learn or make use of what I have.. Thank you for helping and sharing your opinion. – Isabel Jun 25 '18 at 8:04
  • All I can say that I learned all this not on Duolinguo and not on a school course :) Best of luck with your China adventure. – Vitaly Osipov Jun 26 '18 at 9:05
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Compare 你爸爸是谁 and 谁是你爸爸. They could mean differently.

你爸爸是谁: who is your father?

谁是你爸爸 could be like a rhetorical question, implying I am not really your father and you might have recognized a wrong person as your father.

Hope this could help you.

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As a Chinese, I would say both 这个人是谁 and 谁是这个人 are commonly used and mean the same thing. Chinese is a language that not paying too much attention on the order of Subject, Verb and Object. For example, 吃饭了吗?(Eat the meal yet?); 饭吃了吗?(meal eaten yet?); 吃了饭吗?( ate meal?) They all mean the same thing that people trying to ask if you have meal or not.

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