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Mandarin
Chinese Adjectives

 

Chinese adjectives differ from those in English in that they can be used as verbs (for example tian hei le ( "The sky has become dark") .

Before nouns

When describing a noun with an adjective, the associative particle de is inserted between the adjective and the noun. For example, gao xing de hai zi "happy child". De is sometimes omitted to reduce repetitiveness (e.g. two or more de within the same sentence); it is also omitted in some established adjective-noun pairs to improve sentence flow (e.g. the TV show kuaile China ). In general, there are no strict rules when de can be omitted; however, some adjectives and adjective-noun pairs are more often seen without the associative particle than others.
Some examples:
  • Huai ren                      "bad person"
  • Qiguai de ren              "strange person"
  • Keai de xiongmao       "cute panda"

After nouns

First pattern

Unlike English, subjects and predicate adjectives in a Chinese sentence are not linked by copula but by degree adverbs, such as hen "very," hao "highly," zhen "really," and feichang "extraordinarily, extremely." For example, the following sentences express increasing degrees of "beauty":
  • Ta hen piao liang.
    She is beautiful.
  • Ta hao piao liang.
    She is very beautiful.
  • Ta zhen piao liang.
    She is really beautiful.
  • Ta fei chang piao liang.
    She is extraordinarily beautiful.
A complementary adverb (e.g.  ji le) can also specify the degree of an adjective:
  • Ta piao liang ji le.
    She is exceedingly beautiful.
It should be noted that hen often functions as a generic linking adverb and does not carry the meaning of "very". For example, ta hen piao liang is often understood and translated as "She is beautiful".

Second pattern

The linking verb shi (to be) is used with adjectives in the pattern -- Noun + shi + Adj + de -- to state or emphasize a fact or a perceived fact. For example:
  • Ta shi nan de.
    He is male.
  • Na liang che shi xing de.
    That car is new.
  • Na zhi mao shi hei de.
    That cat is black.
 
   
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