The verb ‘to be’ is rarely used in an adjectival predicate. This is a distinguishing feature of the Chinese language. For example:
你的房间很大。Nǐ de fángjiān hěn dà. (Your room is enormous.)
你很聪明。Nǐ hěn cōngmíng. (You are brilliant.)
这条裙子很漂亮。Zhè tiáo qúnzi hěn piàoliang. (This dress is gorgeous.)
Degree Adverbs and Adjectival Predicates
In this kind of adjectival predicate, the adjective always needs a degree adverb to describe it. The most common degree adverbs are 很 hěn ‘very.’ 很 Hěn is often unstressed when it carries little meaning. For example:
很高兴认识你。Hěn gāoxìng rènshí nǐ. (Nice to meet you.)
很开心可以去中国旅行。Hěn kāixīn kěyǐ qù zhōngguó lǚxíng. ( I am delighted to travel to China. )
这条裙子很贵。Zhè tiáo qúnzi hěn guì. (This dress is costly.)
Other degree adverbs, unlike 很 hěn, are normally stressed. The most commonly used are 真 zhēn ‘really,’ 相当 xiāngdāng ‘fairly,’ 非常 fēicháng or 十分 shífēn ‘extremely’:
这儿的清蒸鱼真好吃。Zhèr de qīngzhēng yú zhēn hào chī. (The steamed fish here is really delicious.)
你的建议相当不错。Nǐ de jiànyì xiāngdāng bùcuò. (Your suggestion is pretty good.)
中国菜非常好吃。Zhōngguó cài fēicháng hào chī. (Chinese food is very delicious.)
我十分想放假。Wǒ shífēn xiǎng fàngjià. (I really want to have a vacation.)
Note: A contrast is implied if a degree adverb is not used with an adjectival predicate.
今天暖和。Jīntiān nuǎnhuo. (It’s warm today.)
这条鱼新鲜。Zhè tiáo yú xīnxiān. (The fish is fresh.)
Negative Adjectival Predicates
When the adjectival predicate is negated by 不 bù, there is no need for a degree adverb:
这双鞋子不合适。Zhè shuāng xiézi bù héshì. (These shoes are not suitable.)
这个答案不对。Zhège dá’àn búduì. (This answer is wrong.)
If both 很 hěn and 不 bù are present, the order of the words becomes crucial to the meaning:
他爷爷的身体不很好。Tā yéyé de shēntǐ bù hěn hǎo. (His grandfather’s health is not very good.)
他爷爷的身体很不好。Tā yéyé de shēntǐ hěn bù hǎo. (His grandfather’s health is terrible.)
这份文件不很重要。Zhè fèn wénjiàn bù hěn zhòngyào. (This document is not very important.)
这份文件很不重要。Zhè fèn wénjiàn hěn bú zhòngyào. (This document is very unimportant.)
Adjectival Predicates Follow Verbs.
A verb often follows adjective predicates to show where the quality or property of the adjective applies:
这杯奶茶很好喝。Zhè bēi nǎichá hěn hǎo hē. (This cup of milk tea is very delicious.)
中文语法很难懂。Zhōngwén yǔfǎ hěn nán dǒng. (Chinese grammar is complicated to understand.)
那部电影很好看。Nà bù diànyǐng hěn hǎokàn. (That movie is excellent.)
中国菜真好吃。Zhōngguó cài zhēn hào chī. (Chinese food is so delicious.)
奥斯陆非常好玩。Àosīlù fēicháng hǎowán. (Oslo is an enjoyable place.)
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