I know that this is a pattern that expresses a reverse meaning of what is really expressed (some kind of rhetorical question) - and that the speaker is somehow showing a negative attitude. I suppose the expression is very easy to translate - if I only knew what would be a good equivalent in English. I ll give some examples. Please do help me with suggestions. Thanks a lot.

1) 叫你买彩票,你还真买呀 ? 2) 那是 公家的东西!人家叫你拿,你还真拿呀? (and which tones should this 人家 have?) 3) 现在刚下午四点,他让你睡觉,你就真睡觉呀?

Would it be correct to translate no.3 this way:

"The time is just four o' clock, and he allows/ lets you go to sleep - will you really go to sleep? "

(I have no clue how to translate well the two first ones - maybe because the difference between 让 and 叫 slightly mess up the translation for me - but maybe there is no big difference? )

  • 1
    让 has a sense of 'allow' and 叫 'ask somebody to do something'. Hence there's a subtle difference between 人家叫你拿 and 人家让你拿. But with 还真 construction, there's little difference in the meaning of the whole sentence。
    – user58955
    Commented May 1, 2014 at 11:46
  • N还/就真V呀 means N already V and you are exclaiming in disbelievement. So, this is not a question will N really V?, but instead something like I ask N to V and, wow, N really V!.
    – 杨以轩
    Commented May 2, 2014 at 2:13
  • I still do not understand the true function of 还真。 Could you help me to explain it more clearly? Ok - maybe it has no meaning, but it must mean something. Concerning sentence 3) Ok, I know it is not really a question, that is why I suggested it to be a kind of rhetorical question that obviously don't really need an answer, just stating some disbelief - but don't you think that your suggestion alters the meaning slightly - since, after all, the original Chinese sentence actually do have a question-mark in the end?
    – miree
    Commented May 3, 2014 at 7:40
  • If you are asking whether these questions are rhetorical or not, more context would help. It's difficult to say when we just have the sentence and are forced to imagine the situation.
    – neubau
    Commented May 4, 2014 at 0:36
  • @miree The speaker is clearly not asking a question, but talking with sarcastic manner. The implied meaning is: "Seriously? you are taking a nap? It's just 4pm, you really shouldn't hit the hay, even if he has told you to do so. How come you are actually doing it?" 还真 is sort of comparable to "actually" above.
    – Rephinx
    Commented May 4, 2014 at 7:52

3 Answers 3


As for tones, it is rénjia, as in "people", "somebody".

If talking about a family, it is more stressed: rénjiā.

  • What are you talking about?
    – Mou某
    Commented May 3, 2014 at 4:30
  • Search for "and which tones" in the OP:s question.
    – user4452
    Commented May 3, 2014 at 6:58
  • This answers a small part of the question, so it looks good to me.
    – Don Kirkby
    Commented May 8, 2014 at 2:40

According to the sentences above, such structure means "something meaning about irony,sarcasm. And if you do what someone told you, you are very fool or idiot".

So you can translate this in different kinds of situations:

1) You're an idiot to by the lottery!

2) How dare you to take the thing shared by the common people! (Or: It's very shamed of you to take such thing by the common people!)

3) It's too early for you to go to sleep at 4 O'clock P.M!


This kind of reminds me of If I asked you to jump off a cliff/bridge would you do it? but that's kind of getting off the subject a little...

These sentences could even be translated as "You didn't know I was kidding when I said "....""

-#3 could even use the "if sb. asked you to 某某某 would you do it?"

there is no 'fixed' way to translate these kind of things -- a more flexible approach will make it sound way better.

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