Mandarin Grammar Lesson 3
Predicate Adjectives

New Vocabulary

Function words

de

 "possessive"

bu4

not

 

Adverbs

 

 

 

Adjectives

hen3

very

hao3

good/well

tai4

too

mang2

busy

fei1 chang2

extremely

非 常

kuai4 le4

happy

快 樂

zhen1

truly

gao1

tall

na4 me

that much

那 麼

piao4 liang4

pretty

漂 亮

Stative Verbs

English uses the format NOUN + "to be" + ADJECTIVE to connect the subject to an adjective.  Examples:

He is happy.

They are busy.

I am tall.

It is pretty.

Chinese uses two different forms, one to link nouns to nouns and a second form to link nouns to adjectives.  The second form is generally NOUN + (ADVERB) + ADJECTIVE.  These adjectives function in this form both as descriptors and as the "to be" verb as needed.  In fact, these adjectives behave as verbs in many ways, including how they are negated and form choice-type questions.


==

Adverbs modify the adjective, but are not always optional.  In some instances, dropping the adverb can change the grammatical sense of a sentence.  This is especially true when used with predicate adjectives.

The word hen3 is a notable exception.  It often acts as the default adverb.  While it can modify the adjective, adding the idea of "very" to the meaning, it can also simply act as a link between noun and adjective without acting as a modifier.  For example:

  • "I am happy." and "I am very happy." would both be " wo3 hen3 kuai4 le4 "

  • "He is busy." and "He is very busy." would both be " ta1 hen3 mang2 "

Equative + "de"

In the previous grammar lesson, it was explained that the equative verb shi4 is used only to link a noun to another noun.  While this is true, it can be used in a special structure to link a noun to an adjective.  This structure can serve to give rhetorical emphasis to the speaker's statement.

The basic form is:

 NOUN+ "shi4" +ADJECTIVE PHRASE+ "de"

can also be said

Note that while this is grammatically correct, for most simple adjectives (like tall as used in this example) you would not use this pattern.

This can be looked at as simply a pattern that adds emphasis to the description, and that in this structure shi4 is not functioning as an equative verb but as a linking verb.  Or, this can be seen as a structure with an understood predicate nominative.

Ta1  

shi4 hen3 gao1 de ( ta1 )
subject linking verb adjective phrase attributive (understood)

An equivalent English way of saying this would be "He is one who is tall."  In this way, the equative verb is still linking two nouns together and the adjective is modifying the understood noun.


Pronouns | Equative Verb | Predicate Adjectives | Mandarin Locative Marker | Possessives | Choice Questions | Measure Words

Up | About the Site | Chinese Lessons | Mandarin Lessons | Cantonese | Downloads

Home        Friends Service          Bookstore
copyright 2002-2006
all rights reserved

Google