Making judgments with "suan"
The word 算 (suàn) has a number of uses which can be translated in a number of ways. The common theme is that 算 indicates some kind of judgment and may be thought of as "counts as" or "is considered to be."
Used with a Noun
This essentially expresses that one "considers" something to be something else, as in, "I consider her a genius."
Subj. (+ 不) + 算 + Noun
- 她 算 天才 。She is considered a genius.
- 这 算 秘密 吗 ？Is this considered a secret?
- 她 算 不 算 你 女朋友 ？Can she be considered your girlfriend or not?
- 美国 的 中国 菜 算 中国 菜 吗 ？Can American Chinese food be considered Chinese food?
- 我们 认识 ，但是 不 算 朋友 。We know each other, but can't be considered friends.
Used with an Adjective
算 can also be used with an adjective. It adds a sense of "comparatively speaking," as in, "in the grand scheme of things, this counts as...."
Subj. + 算 + Adj. + 的
- 这 家 店 的 东西 算 便宜 的 。The things in this shop are pretty cheap.
- 我 女儿 算 听话 的 。My daughter pretty much does what she's told.
- 在 我们 公司 ，我 算 年轻 的 。I'm considered young in our company.
- 你 老板 算 大方 的 ，我 老板 更 小气 。Your boss could be said to be generous. My boss is even stingier.
This is essentially a straight negation of the affirmative form, but because it's so commonly used, it's worth giving providing extra examples.
Subj. + 不 + 算 + Adj.
Note that you don't need add a 的 here.
- 这 次 考试 不 算 难 。This exam isn't that difficult.
- 三十 岁 结婚 不 算 晚 。Getting married when you're 30 can't be considered late.
- 他 才 一 米 七 五 ，不 算 高 。He's only 1.75 meters tall. He can't be considered very tall.
- 剪 个 头发 五十 块 ，不 算 贵 。Fifty kuai for a haircut. It can't be considered expensive.
Adding a Tone of Reluctance with 算是
For both the noun and adjective patterns above, the "judgment" indicated by 算 can be made more reluctant by following 算 immediately with a 是.
- 他 算 天才 。He is considered a genius.
- 他 算 是 天才 。You could say he's a genius (I guess).
A few common examples:
- 算 你 狠！Well aren't you tough!
- 你 算 老几 ？So you think you're some kind of big shot?
- 这 不 算 什么 。It's no big deal.