Lesson 5: Using Chinese Adjectives in Basic Grammar

Office Space

We have learned that we can use「的」,「地」and「得」to connect adjectives and other parts of speech (nouns, verbs, adverbs). In this lesson, we will discuss how to use Chinese adjectives in the basic sentence.

In English, we use ‘to be’ to fill in the gap between ‘nouns’ and ‘adjectives’. Let’s say:

She is beautiful.

(noun + to be + adjective)

 

The same rule does not apply in Chinese. We do not use 是 (shì) – which may be translated as ‘to be’ – to link ‘nouns’ and ‘adjectives’. Instead, we use degree adverbs, which describe the degree of the adjectives:

很 (hěn) – very

好 (hǎo) – highly

真 (zhēn) – really

非常 (fēicháng) – extremely

不 (bù) – not

 

Structure: Noun + Degree Adverb + Adjective

 

他很帅。

tā hěn shuài.

He is (very) handsome.

 

As a linking verb, 很 is generally not translated as ‘very’. It simply acts as a ‘neutral linker’ between noun and adjective.

 

你非常优秀。

nǐ fēicháng yōuxiù.

You are extremely excellent.

 

我不快乐。

wǒ bù kuàilè.

I am not happy.

 

On the other case, we use 是 (shì) to emphasize a fact.

Structure: Noun + 是 + Adjective + 的

 

这只狗是公的。

Zhè zhǐ gǒu shì gōng de.

This dog is male.

那个自行车是坏的。

Nàgè zìxíngchē shì huài de.

That bike is broken.