Also known as: 形容词 (xíngróngcí).

Adjectives are the "describing" words of a language. In Chinese, they have some characteristics that they don't have in English.


  1. The majority of adjectives can be modified by both the adverb "不" and the adverb "很".
  2. In sentences, adjectives are generally predicates, attributes, or complements.
  3. Adjectives do not take objects.
  4. Adjectives can be reduplicated.



Adjective reduplication is a common phenomenon in Chinese, usually used to emphasize the quality of the adjective. There are many different patterns for reduplicating adjectives, including AABB (e.g. 干干净净), ABB (e.g. 红通通) or BABA (e.g. 雪白雪白). When adjectives are reduplicated, they must be followed by a "的."


Adjectives can function as predicates. However, 是 is not used with adjectives. Instead, you have to use "很". This is another common beginning mistake. In order to connect a noun to its adjective, use 很, not 是. In terms of pronunciation, a neutral 很 just indicates the predicate, but a 很 in third tone adds emphasis to the adjective. Some adjectives are not preceded by 很, but are followed by 了: 饿, 渴, 病. These adjectives often describe a change of state, explaining the different grammar.

If the adjective is only a single character, it can directly modify the noun, (e.g. 新书). 的 can optionally be inserted to emphasize the adjective: 新的书. On the other hand, if the adjective has two characters, and the noun it modifies only has one, the 的 is required, (e.g. 好看的画). If both have two characters, the 的 is optional just as it is with single character adjectives. These rules also apply to 地 when modifying verbs.

Special adjectives 多 and 少

These two adjectives must be combined with 很 or 不 in order to form attributives for nouns. However, 的 is not necessary with 多 and 少.

Further notes

  • Adjectives can form affirmative-negative questions by placing the adjective and the negated adjective next to each other (e.g. 他高不高?)
  • Adjectives can be followed by complements such as "budeliao." These complements usually express degree.

Types adjectives

Grammar Patterns for Adjectives

A2 Adjectives

Grammar Point (English) Pattern Examples
Negative adjectives with "-si le" Adj. + 死了 我 今天 累 死了

B1 Adjectives

Grammar Point (English) Pattern Examples
Adjectives with "-ji le" Adj. + 极了 这个 主意 好 极了
Expressing "not very" with "bu zenme" 不怎么 + Adj. 这里 的 菜 他 不怎么 好吃
Indicating the whole with "quan" 全 + Noun 我们 家 都 去 旅游 了。
Reduplication of adjectives Adj. + Adj. 你 应该 慢慢 地 走。
Turning adjectives into adverbs Adj. + 地 + Verb 你 要 认真 学习。

B2 Adjectives

Grammar Point (English) Pattern Examples
Adjectival complement "de budeliao" Adj. + 得不得了 爸爸 气 得 不得了,你 要 倒霉 啦。
Adjectival complement "de hen" Adj. + 得 很 这个 题目 简单 得 很
Expressing "a bit too" Adj. + 了 + (一) 点儿 那个 地方 离 我家 了 点儿
Saying "a lot" with "youdeshi" Subj. + 有的是 + Noun 川菜 上海 有的是

Sources and further reading