I am trying to understand questions that require you to move the question word to the front of the sentence. So I learnt that 只有丽丽买了什么书?is wrong, I have to say 什么书只有丽丽买了?

What I would like to ask is what if the question did not have the object 书?Should I move the question word to the front of the sentence still? 只有丽丽买了什么?or 什么只有丽丽买了?Which one is grammatical?

3 Answers 3


Neither 只有丽丽买了什么?nor 什么只有丽丽买了? sounds quite right.

In this case, we should add a noun after 什么. E.g. 什么东西只有丽丽买了?But 只有丽丽买了什么东西 still doesn't sound right.

The reason is that with 只有, we have to be specific what item that only Lili bought. If without 只有,we can say 丽丽买了什么. So, 只有丽丽买了什么 or 什么只有丽丽买了 is somewhat wrong. And 丽丽买了什么东西 or 什么东西丽丽买了 is also correct.


什么(是)只有丽丽买了(的)? is grammatical

什么 itself without a following noun can be a noun for 'something'


只有丽丽买了[什么]嗎? = Only Lili has bought [something]?

要吃些[什麼]嗎? = want to eat [something]?

要看些[什麼]嗎? = want to watch [something]?

要吃些[什麼]? = [what] do you want to eat?

要看些[什麼]? = [what] do you want to watch?

  • Is it actually grammatical to retain the perfective particle in a 是…的 construction? It sounds at the very least highly cumbersome to me. If using it that way, it would have to be 什么是只有丽丽买的? to me, without the 了, and even then it sounds less natural without a noun after 什么. Googling it on grammar sites, I can’t really find any explicit mentions, but not a single example I found has a 了, and as several sites mention, while the 是 is frequently omissible, the 的 isn’t normally. Dec 30, 2021 at 8:59

什么书 只有丽丽买了? What book is purchased by 丽丽 only? This means no one else has purchased the book besides 丽丽. 书 can be any purchasable goods, like "東西".

The sequence of the phrases 什么书 and 只有丽丽买了 can't be switched to 只有丽丽买了什么书, it is grammatically incorrect and confusing.

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.