The most common way to form a superlative (best, worst, biggest, smallest, etc.) in Chinese is to use 最 (zuì) before an adjective (and a few select verbs).
最 (zuì) with Adjectives
The structure is:
最 + Adj.
And now you have the superlative form of the adjective. Unlike in English, this structure is consistent for all adjectives in Chinese. The inconsistencies in English sometimes confuse beginners, so note in the examples below how to say "best," "worst," "least," and "most" (meaning "greatest number").
- 哪 个 老师 最 好？Which teacher is the best?
- 你们 家 谁 最 漂亮？In your family who is the most beautiful?
- 谁 最 有钱 ？Who is the richest?
- 汉语 最 难 。The Chinese language is the most difficult.
- 这 种 事 最 麻烦 。These kind of things are the most troublesome.
Optional 了 (le)
Occasionally you'll also see a 了 (le) added after the adjective. This simply adds emphasis to the "-est."
最 + Adj. (+ 了)
- 小狗 最 可爱 了。This 了 is optionalThe puppy is the cutest.
- 四川 菜 最 辣 了 。This 了 is optionalSichuan food is the spiciest.
- 我 的 中国 朋友 最 热情 了。This 了 is optionalMy Chinese friend is the most enthusiastic.
- 他 的 学生 最 认真 了。This 了 is optionalHis student is the most serious.
- 黄山 的 风景 最 美 了。 This 了 is optionalHuang Mountain's landscape is the most beautiful.
最 (zuì) with Psychological Verbs
最 (zuì) can also come before psychological verbs, to express what one "most likes," "most hates," etc. It won't make sense if you try to use 最 (zuì) with non-psychological verbs, though.
The structure is:
最 + [Psychological Verb] + Obj. (+ 了)
Note the 了 (le) on the end there! It's not strictly required, but you'll hear it a lot in spoken Chinese.
- 老板 最 喜欢 你 了！ The boss likes you the best!
- 你 最 怕 什么？What do you most fear?
- 我 最 爱 中国 菜。I love Chinese food most.
- 谁 最 了解 你？ Who knows you best?
- 她 最 讨厌 抽烟 的 男人 了。She most hates men that smoke.
Although you could translate it as "like the best," pairing 最 (zuì) with the psychological verb 喜欢 (xǐhuan) is also a great way to talk about one's "favorite."
- 你 最 喜欢 什么 颜色？What is your favorite color?
- 你 最 喜欢 什么 动物？What is your favorite animal?
- Expressing "excessively" with tai
- Positive adjectives with "-ji le"
- Expressing "rather" with "bijiao"