Mandarin Chinese Grammar for Pimsleur Students/Adjectival stative verbs

Adjectival stative verbsEdit

Adjectives function as verbs. Thus, an adjective like 高, which means "tall/high," needs no copula in the sentence "他高," which means "he is big." One can interpret 高 in this sentence as "to be tall." If one uses the copula 是 before an adjective, it creates a sense of confirmation. Normal prosody makes 是 take phonetic stress in this usage. For example, "他是高" means "he is tall."

Often, the adverb 很 (very) is placed immediately before an adjective. Though 很 means "very," it is not as strong a word as "very" in English, as it is very often used only to improve the flow of a sentence and not actually to stress that the adjective applies to a great extent.

All adjectives can be used as verbs. This page gives some examples of common adjectives.


hăo good, well
duō much, many 我的太太有很美金 ◦ wŏde tàitai yŏu hěn duō měijīn. My wife has a lot of dollars.
不是很 bù shì hěn duō. It isn’t very much.
女儿很 nǚér hěn duō . That’s a lot of daughters.
他们的家人很 tāmen de jiā rén hěn duō. They have a big family.
guì expensive
kuài quick
xiăo small
yuăn far


Mandarin syntax follows a default SVO (Subject-Verb-Object) word order, as in English. Indirect objects are placed before the object in Mandarin. (This is not true for some other Chinese languages, like Cantonese.) For example, "give me water" is "给我水." Since adjectives function as verbs, they occupy the V role in a sentence.