I'm reading a short narrative about someone who bought a big clock, much to the surprise of his roommate. The roommate asks him: “你家里不是已经有几个钟了吗?”

I'm not exactly sure why this construction is grammatical because of the 不是. My best guess is that this is used for emphasis/rhetorical effect, but I'm not positive. Is this the case?


1 Answer 1


Yes, it's rhetorical effect.

  • 「不是」commonly means "be not", as in sentence

「这个苹果不是我的。」(This apple is not mine).

This type of「不是」 is considered as the opposite of 「是」.

  • But in you example sentence,


「不是」does not mean the opposite of 「是」. This sentence can be reworded to

你家里已经有几个钟了,不是吗?(You already have several clocks at home, don't you?)

You may consider this type of「不是」as a primitive word. It is used for emphasis/rhetorical effect as you have guessed.

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