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Mandarin Chinese Grammar

Adjectives

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Mandarin adjectives are placed after the noun they describe. All Mandarin adjectives implicitly include “to be,” so instead of saying, “He is tall,” simply say “He tall.”

Positive Mandarin adjectives usually need an adverb. If no other adverb is used, the positive adjective is preceded with 很 (hěn), which means “very”. In this situation, though, hěn does not necessarily carry any meaning, so “Tā hěn gāo” could mean either “He is tall,” or “He is very tall.”

Negative Mandarin adjectives are formed by placing the negative particle 不 (bù) before the adjective, as in “Tā bù gāo” – “He is not tall.”

Mandarin Adjective Questions

To form a question, use either the question particle 嗎 (ma), or use the positive / negative question form.

Mandarin Adjective Examples

Click on the links in the Pinyin column to hear the audio.

English Pinyin Chinese Characters
tall gāo
short ǎi
big
small xiǎo
cheap piányí 便宜
expensive guì
She is not short. Tā bù ǎi. 她不矮 。
Is that (very) big? Nèigè hěn dà ma? 那個很大嗎?
Is it expensive? Guì bù guì? 貴不貴?
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