Mandarin nouns can be modified with stative verbs - words that describe a relatively unchanging state. Examples of stative verbs include:
- 高 (gāo) tall
- 矮 (ǎi) short
- 大 (dà) big
- 小 (xiǎo) small
- 便宜 (piányí) cheap
- 貴 / 贵 (guì) expensive
Stative verbs are similar to English adjectives, except that stative verbs implicitly include the equative verb shì (是).
So the sentence:
他很高｡ Tā hěn gāo.
translates as "he is tall" even though the literal translation is "he very tall."
A noun modified by a stative verb can be at the end of the sentence:
Tā hěn gāo de nánhái.
He is a tall boy.
The possessive 的 (de) is usually used between the stative verb and the modified noun with this exception: If the stative verb is a single syllable and is unmodified, it does not take 的 (de), unless it is for emphasis.
So in our example sentence, 高 (gāo) is modified with 很 (hěn), so 的 (de) is required. An example of an unmodified stative verb is seen in this sentence:
Wǒ xǐhuān mǎi jiù shū.
I like to buy old books.