Listen to word
   Listen to sentence
   Learn More
Traditional Simplified

ba

is a commonly used particle that will soften the tone of a command, suggestion, supposition, or statement. It can also indicate reluctant agreement.

Softening commands and suggestions

Let's look at some examples of how we can make commands sound a bit more polite:

command + 

天氣
Tiānqì hěn rè , duō hē diǎn shuǐ ba 。
It is very hot. Drink more water!
wǒ léi le , nǐ zǒu ba 。
I am very tired. Please go.
我們 遲到 快一點
Wǒmen yào chídào le. kuàiyīdiǎn ba!
We are going to be late. Hurry up!

The English sentences still sound a bit harsh, sure, but if you wanted to sound more polite, you’d have to reword your commands entirely! However, the simple addition of 吧 to the Chinese sentences makes them sound much more polite without having to reword them.

suggestion + 

媽媽 可能 生氣 道歉
Nǐ māma kěnéng huì hěn shēngqì. nǐ qù dàoqiàn ba.
Your mom might be very angry. You should apologize.
時間
Wǒ yǒu de shì shíjiān. wǒ qù ba!
I have plenty of time. I will go!
你的 裙子 還是
Nǐ qúnzǐ hěn zāng , nǐ háishì huàn yī tiáo xīn de ba 。
Your dress is dirty. You had better wear a new one.
最好 計程車
Hěn wǎn le, nǐ zuìhǎo jiào jìchéngchē ba.
It's gotten late. You had better call a taxi.

Softening tones in a supposition

When we want to express uncertainty in our supposition and look for confirmation, we could add with a question mark at the end of it.

supposition +  + ?

看起來 高興
Nǐ kànqǐlái hěn gāoxīng , nǐ yíng le ba ?
You look happy. Did you win?
女人 你的 姐姐
Zhè ge nǚrén hěn xiàng nǐ , tā shì nǐde jiějie ba ?
This woman looks a lot like you. I guess she is your sister?
中文 有趣
Xué zhōngwén hěn yǒuqù , duìba ?
Learning Chinese is really interesting, right?

This may seem similar to , but, where is a direct yes-no question, is a request for verification of something you think you’re probably right about.

Softening tones in a statement

There are time we don't want to be too accusatory or harsh when making a statement, especially when it’s something unpleasant to hear. Adding a at the end of our statement will help make it gentler.

statement + 

太過分
Nǐ tàiguòfēn le ba 。
You went too far.
Tā piàn nǐ ba 。
He lied to you.
Wǒ xiǎng shì ba 。
I think so.
喜歡
Tā bù xǐhuān nǐ ba 。
He doesn't like you.

Expressing hesitation or unwillingness in our agreement

Sometimes even if we agree to something, we might not be completely happy about it, or we have some hesitation about it. In this case, we will add after our agreement.

agreement + 

--Dialogue 1--

今晚 工作 不能
Wǒ jīnwǎn yào gōngzuò, bùnéng qù.
I need to work tonight. I can't go.
自己
Hǎoba, nà wǒ zìjǐ qù.
Ok, I will go alone.

--Dialogue 2--

媽媽 今晚 可以 出去
Māmā, wǒ jīnwǎn kěyǐ chūqù ma?
Mom, can I go out tonight.
Xíng ba, dàn bù hē tài duō.
Ok, but don't drink too much

--Dialogue 3--

咱們 分手
Zánmén fēnshǒu ba
Let's break up.
Hǎo ba.
Fine

In the last dialogue, we can see two different uses of . The one who wants to break up adds at the end of his statement to soften his tone (he may want to break up, but he at least wants to be gentle about it), and his partner accepts it even though she doesn't want to.