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Superlative "zui"

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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

Structure

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").

Examples

  • 哪 个 老师 好?Nǎge lǎoshī zuì hǎo? Which teacher is the best?
  • 你们 家 谁 漂亮?Nǐmen jiā shéi zuì piàoliang? In your family who is the most beautiful?
  • 有钱 ?Shéi zuì yǒuqián?Who is the richest?
  • 汉语 难 。Hànyǔ zuì nán.The Chinese language is the most difficult.
  • 这 种 事 麻烦 。Zhè zhǒng shì zuì máfan.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."

Structure

最 + Adj. (+ 了)

Examples

  • 小狗 可爱 This 了 is optionalXiǎogǒu zuì kě'ài le.The puppy is the cutest.
  • 四川 菜 This 了 is optionalSìchuān cài zuìle.Sichuan food is the spiciest.
  • 我 的 中国 朋友 热情 This 了 is optionalWǒ de Zhōngguó péngyou zuì rèqíng le.My Chinese friend is the most enthusiastic.
  • 他 的 学生 认真 This 了 is optionalTā de xuésheng zuì rènzhēn le.His student is the most serious.
  • 黄山 的 风景 This 了 is optionalHuángshān de fēngjǐng zuì měi le.Huang 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.

Structure

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.

Examples

  • 老板 喜欢 你 了! Lǎobǎn zuì xǐhuan nǐ le!The boss likes you the best!
  • 什么?zuì shénme?What do you most fear?
  • 中国 菜。zuì ài Zhōngguó cài.I love Chinese food most.
  • 了解 你? Shéi zuì liǎojiě nǐ?Who knows you best?
  • 讨厌 抽烟 的 男人 了。zuì tǎoyàn chōuyān de nánrén le.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."

  • 喜欢 什么 颜色?zuì xǐhuan shénme yánsè? What is your favorite color?
  • 喜欢 什么 动物?zuì xǐhuan shénme dòngwù?What is your favorite animal?

See also

Sources and further reading

Books