The Chinese Grammar Wiki writes:

Note that 难道 can only be used for rhetorical questions which could be answered with yes or no, and generally end with 吗.

And gives examples such as:


However, none of the examples on 标准教程HSK4上 page 105 include 吗, such as:


From the examples I've seen, I'm getting the impression that the 吗 at the end can be included or omitted without changing the meaning.

Question: Can we omit the 吗 at the end of a 难道 rhetorical question?

2 Answers 2


Yes, definitely you can. However, in some situations, with 吗 it sounds more natural and less rude. And sometimes, with 吗 it might sound less criticizing, such as your first example 今天是我的生日,难道你不知道吗?


"今天是我的生日,难道你不知道吗?" (Today is my birthday, could it be you don't know that?) is a rhetorical question

Omitting "吗" and write "今天是我的生日,难道你不知道?" or "难道你不知道今天是我的生日?" is still perfectly acceptable as a rhetorical question, as long as there's a question mark at the end.

Even without "难道" , "今天是我的生日,你不知道吗?" can still be a rhetorical question if you are expected to know. And you are expected to answer "of course I know"

If you are not expected to know, then it is a real question. I really am asking "is it true that you don't know?" and your answer can be "yes, I know" or "no, I don't"

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.