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Expressing "excessively" with "tai"

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In Chinese, the simplest structure for expressing "too" in the sense of "excessively" is by using the word 太 (tài). Don't forget to also add 了 (le) after the adjective to keep your Chinese sounding natural.

Structure

太 + Adj. + 了

As in English, this can express that something really is excessive (often as a complaint), or can also colloquially express the meaning of "so" or "very."

Examples

The following examples sound a little bit like a complaint, or a reason for not doing something. They're similar to how we would use "too" in English, and the translations are straightforward.

  • 米饭 Mǐfàn tài duō le.There is too much rice.
  • 现在 Xiànzài tài wǎn le.Now it's too late.
  • 老板 Lǎobǎn tài máng le.The boss is too busy.
  • 老师 Lǎoshī tài lèi le.The teacher is too tired.
  • 这个 厕所 Zhège cèsuǒ tài zāng le.This restroom is too dirty.

In the following examples, the same exact pattern is used to exclaim how good something is, so these uses are totally not complaints. The English translations have to get a little more creative to express the same feeling in English.

  • tài hǎo le.You are so great.
  • tài shuài le.He is very handsome.
  • 这 个 女孩 漂亮 Zhège nǚhái tài piàoliang le.This girl is so pretty.
  • 小猫 可爱 Xiǎomāo tài kě'ài le!The kitten is so cute!
  • 你 的 孩子 聪明 Nǐ de háizi tài cōngming le.Your kids are wicked smart.

Note for the more advanced learner: This pattern can be used with modal verbs (e.g. 会 (huì), 能 (néng)) as well as psychological verbs (e.g. 喜欢 (xǐhuan), 想 (xiǎng), 爱 (ài)) to intensify the degree.

See also

Sources and Further Reading

{{Source|Modern Mandarin Chinese Grammar: A Practical Guide|57) →buy