Crystallising Mongolian Grammar
Монгол хэлний хэлзүй
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Modal particles: биз дээ

10 December 2016

This is part of a series on Modal particles based on textbooks and grammar references that I have to hand.

Биз дээ is a sentence-final particle used to seek confirmation of one's statement or opinion from a listener, although pinning down the actual tone and function can be difficult. Биз дээ is well catered for in sources, including dictionaries, textbooks, and grammar books. Sources make little distinction between биз and биз дээ.

A. Textbooks:
   1. Mongolian Language Handbook
   2. Mongolian Language for Beginners
B. Grammars:
   3. Mongolian Grammar
   4. 蒙古语语法
C. Other:
   5. Dictionaries
   6. More examples

1. T. Uranchimeg (Mongolian Language Handbook) 2007

Uranchimeg treats биз дээ along with -гэж үү? and -гүй юү? Here we look only at the биз дээ examples:

Биз дээ is a tag question. A tag question is a question that is added to the end of a sentence. I use a tag question because I expect you (the listener) to agree with me. I give my idea but express it in the form of a question.

Та миний аавыг танина биз дээ?
Тийм, би аавыг тань эртнээс танина.
You know my father, don't you?
Yes, I have known your father for a long time.
Та миний аавыг танихгүй биз дээ?
Тийм, би аавыг тань танихгүй.
You don't know my father, do you.
That's right, I don't know your father.
Тэр "Чингис хаан" киног үзсэн биз дээ?
He has seen the movie 'Chingis Khan', hasn't he?
Тэр "Чингис хаан" киног үзээгүй биз дээ?
He hasn't seen the movie 'Chingis Khan', has he?

The speaker expects you to answer "Yes". However, you can answer "No" if you do not agree with the speaker.

Өвөө дайны тухай сонссон биз дээ?
Тэгсэн. Өвөө дайны тухай сонссон.
Grandfather heard about the war, didn't he?
Yes, grandfather heard about the war.
Батзаяа өчигдөр ажилдаа ирсэн биз дээ?
Тийм. Батзаяа багш өчигдөр ажилдаа ирсэн.
Teacher Batzaya came to work yesterday, didn't she?
Yes, teacher Batzaya came to work yesterday.
Хүүхдүүд өдөр юм идсэн биз дээ.
Тэгсэн. Хүүхдүүд өдөр юм идсэн.
The children ate something for lunch, didn't they?
Yes, the children ate something for lunch.
Та манай инженертэй уулзсан биз дээ?
Үгүй, Би танай инженертэй уулзаагүй.
You met with our engineer, didn't you?
No, I didn't meet with your engineer.
Та нар үдийн хоолоо идсэн биз дээ?
Үгүй, Бид үдийн хоолоо идээгүй.
You had your lunch, didn't you?
No, we didn't have lunch.


2. Bayarmaa Khalzaa (Mongolian Language for Beginners) 2012

Bayarmaa's explanation of биз дээ relies on a simple equation to English tag questions:

Биз дээ? (isn't it? / is it?, didn't you? / did you? etc.)

Та багш биз дээ?
You are a teacher, aren't you?
Та хоолоо идсэн биз дээ?
You ate your food, didn't you?
Та хоолоо идээгүй биз дээ?
You didn't eat your food, did you?
Ийм гутал үнэтэй биз дээ?
This type of boot is expensive, isn't it?
Монгол хоол амттай биз дээ?
Mongolian food is delicious, isn't it?
Чи ирнэ биз дээ? [irnizdee]
You will come, won't you?

When биз дээ is used after the verb байгаа, sometimes just биз is used.

Гадаа халуун байгаа биз? [baigaaiz]
It's hot outside, isn't it?
Энэ цамц гоё байгаа биз? [goyaigaaiz]
This shirt is pretty, isn't it?
Энэ хоол амттай байгаа биз?
This food is tasty, isn't it?



3. Kullmann and Tserenpil (Mongolian Grammar) 2005

Kullmann and Tserenpil distinguish among several different usages.

Modal particle биз

This particle expresses an assumption. Following a verb with the Tense-Bound Terminating Suffix (TTS⇪) -на, it expresses indifference:

ᠲᠠ ᠠᠭᠣᠴᠢᠯᠠᠨ᠎ᠠ ᠪᠢᠵᠡ᠂ ᠪᠢ ᠦᠨᠡᠬᠡᠷ ᠵᠠᠪ ᠦᠭᠡᠢ ᠪᠠᠢᠨ᠎ᠠ᠃
Та уучилна биз, би үнэхээр завгүй байна.
You will excuse me, won't you. I really don't have time.
ᠲᠡᠷᠡ ᠬᠡᠵᠢᠶ᠎ᠠ ᠢᠷᠡᠬᠦ ᠪᠣᠢ?
ᠪᠢ ᠰᠠᠢᠨ ᠮᠡᠳᠡᠬᠦ ᠦᠭᠡᠢ ᠪᠠᠢᠨ᠎ᠠ᠃ ᠮᠠᠷᠭᠠᠰᠢ ᠢᠷᠡᠨ᠎ᠡ ᠪᠢᠵᠡ᠃
Тэр хэзээ ирэх вэ?
Би сайн мэдэхгүй байна. Маргааш ирнэ биз.
When will he come?
I don't know exactly. He might come tomorrow.

Following a verb with a Noun-Determining Suffix (NDS⇪), it could be translated using a tag question.

ᠦᠨᠦᠳᠦᠷ ᠰᠠᠢᠬᠠᠨ ᠡᠳᠦᠷ ᠪᠠᠢᠭ᠎ᠠ ᠪᠢᠵᠡ ᠳ᠋ᠡ?
Өнөөдөр сайхан өдөр байгаа биз дээ?
Today it's a nice day, isn't it?
ᠲᠠ ᠦᠴᠦᠭᠡᠳᠦᠷ ᠲᠡᠭᠦᠨ ᠲᠠᠢ ᠠᠭᠣᠯᠵᠠᠭ᠎ᠠ ᠪᠢᠵᠡ ᠳ᠋ᠡ?
Та түүнтэй уулзаа биз дээ?
You have met him, haven't you?
ᠲᠠ ᠦᠴᠦᠭᠳᠦᠷ ᠲᠦᠭᠦᠨ ᠲᠠᠢ ᠠᠭᠣᠯᠵᠠᠭᠰᠠᠨ ᠪᠢᠵᠡ ᠳ᠋ᠡ?
Та өчигдөр түүнтэй уулзсан биз дээ.
You met him yesterday, didn't you?

As a copula, it equates nouns or adjectives. Sometimes the final vowel (only evident in Classical Script) is stressed.

ᠡᠨᠡ ᠦᠨᠡᠨ ᠪᠢᠵᠡ᠃
Энэ үнэн бизээ.
That's probably true.
ᠲᠠ ᠪᠠᠭᠠᠲᠣᠷ ᠭᠣᠸᠠᠢ ᠪᠢᠰᠢ ᠪᠢᠵᠡ᠃
Та Баатар гуай биш биз?
You're not Mr Baatar, are you?



4. Chingeltei (蒙古语语法) 1991

Note that Chingeltei approaches usage from the Inner Mongolia standard, which at times differs from Mongolian standard.

Chingeltei explains the degree of certainty needed to use биз дээ. All Chinese translations use 吧, which indicates an assumption on the part of the speaker.

推量语气词... ᠪᠢᠵᠡ, ᠪᠢᠵᠡ ᠳ᠋ᠡ 表示推测,但是这种推测往往有一定把握,或者自己在一定程度上肯定以后,征询对方的同意。

Rough translation: Modal particles of conjecture...: биз, биз дээ express conjecture, but often the speaker has a certain degree of assurance, or is already sure to a certain extent about this conjecture before seeking the agreement of the listener.

ᠲᠠ ᠴᠢᠨᠢ ᠪᠠᠭᠠᠲᠣᠷ ᠦᠨ ᠠᠬ᠎ᠠ ᠨᠢ ᠪᠢᠵᠡ ᠳ᠋ᠡ?
Та чинь Баатарын ах нь биз дээ.
(You're Baatar's brother, aren't you?)
ᠴᠢ ᠪᠠᠰᠠ ᠶᠠᠪᠣᠬᠣ ᠳᠣᠷᠠᠲᠠᠢ ᠶᠣᠮ ᠪᠢᠵᠡ ᠳ᠋ᠡ᠃
Чи бас явах дуртай юм биз дээ.
(You probably want to go too, don't you?)
ᠡᠷᠲᠡᠬᠡᠨ ᠬᠠᠷᠢᠭᠠᠳ ᠢᠷᠡᠪᠡᠯ ᠳᠡᠭᠡᠷ᠎ᠡ ᠪᠢᠵᠡ ᠳ᠋ᠡ᠃
Эртхэн хариаад ирвэл дээр биз дээ.
((I think you agree that) it would be better for you to come back early.)
ᠲᠠ ᠯᠠᠪ ᠰᠣᠨᠣᠰᠣᠭᠰᠠᠨ ᠪᠢᠵᠡ ᠳ᠋ᠡ᠃
Та лав сонссон биз дээ.
(You surely must have heard it, haven't you?)
ᠬᠣᠰᠢᠭᠣᠨ ᠳᠠᠷᠣᠭ᠎ᠠ ᠠᠢᠮᠠᠭ ᠳᠡᠭᠡᠷ᠎ᠡ ᠪᠠᠢᠬᠣ ᠪᠢᠵᠡ᠃
Хошуун дарга аймаг дээр байх биз.
(The banner leader should be in the league.)
ᠲᠠ ᠬᠣᠶᠠᠷ ᠡᠨᠳᠡᠭᠦᠷᠡᠵᠦ ᠪᠠᠢᠨ᠎ᠠ ᠪᠢᠵᠡ᠃
Та хоёр эндүүрч байна биз.
(There is surely a misunderstanding between you two.)

Mongolia: Та хоёр эндүүрч байгаа биз.


5. Dictionaries

A number of ordinary dictionaries have entries for биз.

Монгол хэлний дэлгэрэнгүй тайлвар толь edited by Л. Балдан, Ё. Баярсайхан, Э. Пүрэвжав (2008):

    БИЗ ᠪᠣᠢ ᠵ᠎ᠠ Таамаглах, төсөөлөх, эргэлзэх, лавшруулах мэтийн санааг илтгэхэд хэрэглэх сул үг, буй заа

    Чиний сонссон гаж бүруу чимээ эдэг чинь лав шар шуувууны дуу биз (Д. Цэвэгмид. Зохиолын түүвэр)

    Үнэн биз (Үнэн буй заа, үнэн үү)

    Тийм биз (тийм буй заа, тийм үү)

A Modern Mongolian-English Dictionary by Gombojab Hangin et al (1986) defines биз as follows:

    (predicate particle) must be, maybe, (it) is probable

    санаж байгаа биз certainly you remember

A Modern Mongolian-Japanese-English Dictionary / 現代蒙英日辞典 by Tömörtogoo (1977) has the following entry:

    Биз aux. v. may be, seems to be, it is probable, perhaps

    Биз 助動詞 〜だろう, 〜でしょう, 多分〜でしょう

    Та миний үзэгийг хараагүй биз / is it possible you have seen my pen? / あなたは私のペンを見なかったでしょう?

    Тэр маргааш ирэхгүй биз / it is probable he will not come tomorrow / 彼は明日来ないでしょう。

Орчин үеэйн Монгол-Япон хэлний товч толь / 現代モンゴル語辞典(改訂増補版) edited by Озава Шигэо / 小沢重男 (undated copy) has the following entry:

    биз (bui-ǰa) ❲助❳ [推量を示す助辞] ...だろう, 恐らく, 多分...でしょう。

    Та хараагүй биз. あなた見ていなかったでしょう。

    Тэр очно биз. 彼は行くだろう。

新蒙汉词典 / Шинэ Монгол-Хятад Толь compiled by the 新蒙汉词典编委会 (2007) has:

    биз ᠪᠢᠵᠡ ❲小❳ 大概,也许,或许,多半,想必,看来:

    та хараагүй биз? 您大概没看见呢?

    тэр очно биз 他大概要去

Монгол-Хятад Толь Бичиг / 蒙汉词典 by Доржсүрэнгийн Болдбаатар (2006) gives:

    биз ❲小❳ 啊,吗;

    Хүүхэд үүхэдгүй сайн биз дээ?▵孩子大人都好啊?

    Хүүхэд эмчлүүлэхэд мөнгө хэрэгтэй байхад чи хатуу сэтгэл гаргаад зээлэхгүй байх юм биш биз дээ? ▵ 儿子治病要借钱,你能狠心不借吗?

蒙汉词典(增订本) by Inner Mongolian University School of Mongolian Studies Mongolian Language Research Institute (1999) gives:

    ᠪᠢᠵᠡ [语] 啊,吧(表示推断):

    ᠲᠠ ᠰᠠᠢᠨ ᠪᠢᠵᠡ! 你好吧!

    ᠬᠢᠵᠢ ᠴᠢᠳᠠᠨ᠎ᠠ ᠪᠢᠵᠡ ᠳᠠ! 会做吧!

Takeaway: All dictionaries characterise биз in terms of expressing conjecture or tentative conclusions.

6. More miscellaneous examples

From Япон хэлний өгүүлбэр зүйн тайлбар толь (日本語文型辞典) (Раднаагийн Баттогтох) (2012).

These are all Mongolian examples translated from the Japanese and don't necessarily represent natural spontaneous usage. What is interesting, however, is that the translator feels that だろう is often suitably expressed as биз. だろう is used to make a conjecture in Japanese; that is, it is used to make a statement that the speaker feels (or hopes) is true but is not willing to assert categorically.

Энэ номыг уншаад, хэний ч догдлохбүй байхгүй биз.
((Surely) no one who read this book could fail to be moved.)
Одоогийнх шиг улс төрийн нөхцөл байдал нь ард түмэнд үл итгэх бодол төрүүлэхгүйгээр өнгөрөхгүй биз ээ.
((Surely) a political situation of the current kind can only cause lack of confidence among the populace.)
Ээжүүд одоо хаана байгаа бол оо?
Хэдий нь буудалдаа очоо биз.
(I wonder where the mothers are now.
They've probably arrived at the hotel.)
Ээж ээ, Америкт суралцах тухай яриа. Дэмжинэ биз дээ?
(Mum, about going to study in America, you'll give your agreement won't you?)
Өглөөжин цасан дунд шувууны ажиглалт хийлээ.
Тэгээд хүйтэн байсан биз.
(I was watching birds in the snow all morning.
That must have been cold.)
TTS: Tense-bound Terminating Suffix (traditionally known as an 'indicative suffix') is a category in the Kullman/Tserenpil grammar. The 'true' TTS's include the verb endings -жээ (-чээ), -в, -лаа (-лоо, -лээ, -лөө), and -на (-нэ, -но, -нө). They are known as 'terminating' because they can terminate sentences.

A TTS expresses real actions that have happened, are happening, or will happen, indicate a specific tense, can be followed by particles but not copulas. They do not modify following nouns and, depending on the suffix, are restricted in forming negatives or interrogatives.

In addition, the Noun-Determining Suffixes -сан (-сон, -сэн, -сөн), -даг (-дог, -дэг, -дөг), and -аа (-ээ, -оо, -өө) can also be used as TTS's, due to their ability to terminate sentences.
NDS: Noun Determining Suffix (traditionally known as a 'verbal noun suffix') is a category in the Kullman/Tserenpil grammar. It includes the verb endings -сан (-сон, -сэн, -сөн), -даг (-дог, -дэг, -дөг), -аа (-ээ, -оо, -өө), -х, and -гч.

An NDS can serve as a verbal adjective to a succeeding noun (явсан хүн), can take case endings (явсаныг), can be followed by the particle юм (явсан юм) or an auxiliary verb (явсан байна), and can form negatives (явсангүй) and interrogatives (явсан уу?)