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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



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.



nǐ fēicháng yōuxiù.

You are extremely excellent.



wǒ bù kuàilè.

I am not happy.


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

Structure: Noun + 是 + Adjective + 的



Zhè zhǐ gǒu shì gōng de.

This dog is male.


Nàgè zìxíngchē shì huài de.

That bike is broken.

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