Chinese adjectives

Chinese adjectives (simplified Chinese: 形容词; traditional Chinese: 形容詞; pinyin: xíngróngcí) differ from adjectives in English in that they can be used as verbs (for example ; tiān hēi le; lit. "sky black perfective") and thus linguists sometimes prefer to use the terms static or stative verb to describe them.

Attributive (before nouns)Edit

When a noun is modified using an adjective, the associative particle de is inserted between the adjective and the noun. For example, 高兴孩子 gāo xìng de hái zi "happy child". is sometimes omitted to reduce repetitiveness (e.g., two or more instances of within a sentence); it is also omitted in some established[citation needed] adjective-noun pairs to improve sentence flow (e.g., the TV show 快乐中国 in China). It is also more typical to omit when a single-syllable adjective is used than for a multi-syllable adjective (e.g., compare 坏人 (壞人) with 奇怪的人). In general, there are no strict rules regarding when can be omitted; however, some adjectives and adjective-noun pairs are more often seen without the associative particle than others.

Some examples:

  • (huài) (rén)壞人)— "bad person"
  • 奇怪(qíguài) (de) (rén) — "strange person"
  • 可爱(kěài) (de) 熊猫(xióngmāo)可愛的熊貓)— "cute panda"

Predicative (after nouns)Edit

First patternEdit

Unlike English, subjects and predicate adjectives in a Chinese sentence are not linked by copula but by degree adverbs, such as hěn "very," hǎo "highly", zhēn "really," and 非常 fēicháng "extraordinarily, extremely." For example, the following sentences express increasing degrees of "beauty":

ex:

hěn

漂亮。

piàoliang

漂亮。

hěn piàoliang

She is beautiful.

ex:

hǎo

漂亮。

piàoliang

漂亮。

hǎo piàoliang

She is very beautiful.

ex:

zhēn

漂亮。

piàoliang

漂亮。

zhēn piàoliang

She is really beautiful.

ex:

非常

fēicháng

漂亮。

piàoliang

非常 漂亮。

fēicháng piàoliang

She is extraordinarily beautiful.

A complementary adverb (e.g. 极了 jí le) can also specify the degree of an adjective:

ex:

漂亮

piàoliang

le

她漂亮極了。

 

她 漂亮

tā piàoliang le

She is exceedingly beautiful.

NB: often functions as a dummy linking[citation needed] adverb and does not carry the meaning of "very". For example, 她很漂亮 is often understood and translated as "She is beautiful".

Besides, in colloquial Chinese the pattern "AA死了" (sǐ le, literally "to death") or "AA死BB了" is sometimes used in exaggeration to highlight the extent of influence, where AA is an adjective and BB is the thing being affected. Examples include

  • "热死了" ( rè = hot) - meaning "It's so hot [to the extent that I cannot bear any more]"
  • "饿死了" (饿 è = hungry) - meaning "[I feel] so hungry [to the extent that I cannot bear any more]"
  • "热死我了" - meaning "I feel so hot [to the extent that I cannot bear any more]"

Second patternEdit

The linking verb shì (to be) is used with adjectives in the pattern—Noun + + Adj + —to state or emphasize a fact or a perceived fact. For example:

ex:

3SG

shì

to be

nán

male

de

 

shì nán de

3SG {to be} male {}

He is male.

ex:

that

liàng

CL

chē

car

shì

to be

xīn

new

de

 

那輛車是新的。

 

 

那 辆 车

nà liàng chē shì xīn de

that CL car {to be} new {}

That car is new.

ex:

that

zhī

CL

māo

cat

shì

to be

hēi

black

de

 

那隻貓是黑的。

 

 

那 只 猫

nà zhī māo shì hēi de

that CL cat {to be} black {}

That cat is black.

Since is a possessive particle, and the following noun is understood here, more precise translations would be "He is a male one", "That car is a new one", and "That cat is a black one".

Parts of speechEdit