My Mac has a "Pinyin - Traditional" keyboard mapping that shows the most frequently used Chinese characters for the sound typed (i.e. "m" or "a") so I can select the Chinese character I want. This works well for very frequently used words.

But oddly enough, even though "ma" (the question particle) is (I think) very often used, it is not in the frequent list of "m".

Is it not so often used as I think? Is there an easy way to type it using the Pinyin-Traditional keyboard mapping?

  • 1
    Found it in Pinyin-Simplified. Feb 10, 2014 at 19:08
  • 4
    Yes 吗 is simplified. You can tell from the short horizontal line where traditional would have four dots or legs: 嗎. Feb 10, 2014 at 20:38
  • For me, I use "google pinyin", the first of "ma" is 吗
    – Sam Liao
    Feb 11, 2014 at 2:22
  • 1
    hippietrail, yours is the answer. Please make it an answer so I can accept it. Feb 11, 2014 at 10:21
  • arsane, I don't understand your comment. Feb 11, 2014 at 10:22

3 Answers 3


is a simplified Chinese character.

You can tell from the short horizontal line where traditional would have four dots or legs.

is the traditional Chinese character equivalent.

So if you really need you should install Simplified instead of or as well as Traditional Chinese.

Traditional is used in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macao, but most people in those places do not use pinyin input. In Taiwan zhuyin input is most popular. In Hong Kong and Macau nonphonetic input methods such as cangjie are most popular.

Simplified is used in mainland China and Singapore and most people do use pinyin to type it. There are many implementations of pinyin input editors for different operating systems. I'm not familiar with Macs but I am positive it ships with a pinyin input method for simplified Chinese.

  • 1
    I found another keyboard mapping "pinyin-simplified". Thanks. Feb 12, 2014 at 8:00

As you are using the "Pinyin - Traditional" input method, maybe what you can see will only be the traditional character "嗎". To convert it into simplified Chinese, try this tool by pasting it into the blank and click the second button.

By the way, sometimes we also use "麼" (or "么" in simplified form) at the end of a question. And the corresponding Pinyin should be "me", although most Chinese may pronounce it as "mo".


I will recommend to install google pinyin, its url is here: http://www.google.com/intl/zh-CN/ime/pinyin/

with that, you can easily get 吗 with ma


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