Chinese Calligraphy

Lesson 17

Modifying the extent of adjectives

Using the words 這麼 (zhème) and 那麼 (nàme) allows you to increase or decrease the extent of adjectives. Their equivalents in English would be "so", "such" or "that" (e.g. "so pretty", "such a high house" or "that big").

這麼 (zhème) is used for describing adjectives that are closer to the speaker. 那麼 (nàme) is used for describing adjectives that are further away from the speaker. The distance to the speaker can either be a distance in time or a distance in space.


Similarity and disparity of nouns

To indicate that two or more nouns are the same or are not the same, use (不)一樣 ((bù)yīyàng)).

Similarity and disparity

Similarity and disparity of the characteristics of nouns

If you want to express that things, persons or actions share or do not share the same characteristics, use the pattern
_跟/和_(不)一樣 (_gēn/hé_(bù)yīyàng)).

Similarity and disparity

Resemblance of nouns

To indicate that one noun resembles another, use 像 (xiàng).

Resemblance of nouns

Positive and negative comparisons

If you want to draw a positive or a negative comparison between persons, things or actions, you use the pattern as shown in our following examples.


The comparative

The comparative is used for comparing the difference between persons, things or actions. The comparative is the second degree of comparison and is used alongside the positive and the superlative. In Chinese you express the comparative by inserting the comparative word 比 (bǐ) or 比較 (bǐjiào).


To indicate that one thing is much more than the other, use the following.


To indicate that one thing is a little more than the other, use the following.


To indicate that one thing is a even more than the other, place the intensifier 更 (gèng) or 還(要) (hái(yào)) before the verb or adjective.


To indicate a relative degree of something, use the intensifier 比較 (bǐjiào).

比較 (bǐjiào)

The superlative

If you compare people, objects or actions, the superlative represents the highest degree of comparison either in a positive or negative sense. In Chinese you express the superlative by inserting the particle 最 (zuì).


Intensifying adjectives

For intensifying adjectives without using a comparison form, you can add the intensifiers 得很 (dehěn), 極了 (jíle), 得不得了 (debùdéliǎo) and 死了(sǐle). The complement 得很 (dehěn) serves as a positive or negative intensifier and is put after the adjective to be intensified. Its meaning is similar to adding 很 (hěn) before the adjectives. The difference is that 得很 (dehěn) adds more intensification to the adjective than 很 (hěn). Apart from that 得很 (dehěn) is often used informally.

Intensifying adjectives

Intensifying modal verbs

Apart from the intensifiers we learnt in the section above, there are also general intensifiers with which (apart from adjectives) modal verbs can be intensified. Frequently used intesifiers of such type are 很 (hěn), 真 (zhēn) and 非常 (fēicháng) which can be translated as "very" or "really".

Intensifying modal verbs

The complement 極了 (jíle) can follow adjectives and puts even more intensity to the adjective than 得很 (dehěn). It expresses a positive or negative intensity.

極了 (jíle)

The complement 得不得了 (debùdéliǎo) is used to express the highest level of intensity in either a negative or positive sense.

得不得了 (debùdéliǎo)

The complement 死了 (sǐle) is used to intensify adjectives in a very negative sense. The literal meaning of 死 (sǐ) is "death" or "to die". So this intensifier is mainly used informally and should be handled with care.

死了 (sǐle

Using 多 (duō) or 少 (shǎo) as adverbs

If you use 多 (duō) or 少 (shǎo) in combination with an adjective, the meaning of 多 (duō) is "more" and the meaning of 少 (shǎo) is "less".

多 (duō) or 少 (shǎo)

Actions sharing the same quality

If you want to express that actions share the same quality, use the adverb 又 (yòu).

又 (yòu)

If you want to focus on each of the actions that happen at the same time, use 一邊 (yībiān).

一邊 (yībiān)

Actions reached at a particular point of time

If you want to indicate that an action was/is/will or will have been (Future II) reached at a particular point of time, use 到 (dào) or 等(到) (děng(dào)).


Constructions using 越...越 (yuè...yuè)

The construction 越來越 (yuèláiyuè) can be translated as "more and more" meaning that an adjective (adjectival verb) or verb increases in intensity.

越來越 (yuèláiyuè)

The construction 越 + Verb or Adjective + 越 can be translated as "the more ... the more" and is used to indicate an increase in intensity of two or more correlated things.

越 (yuè)