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Reduplication of adjectives

(Redirected from Adjective reduplication)

One of the charming features of Chinese is reduplication (repeating, or doubling up) of certain words and characters, including adjectives! Reduplication makes the descriptive feeling of the adjective stronger.

One-Syllable Adjectives (AA)

If an adjective is only one syllable (one character), then reduplicating it is a no-brainer. In most Chinese textbooks and grammar books, this is known as the "AA" pattern.

Structure

Adj. + Adj. + 的 (+ Noun)

Another way of putting that (and we'll be using this form more extensively below) is:

A A + 的 (+ Noun)

Note that this pattern is also identical to single-syllable reduplication of verbs.

Examples

  • 你 的 脸 红 红 的Nǐ de liǎn hóng hóng de.Your face is red.
  • 宝宝 的 眼睛 大 大 的Bǎobao de yǎnjīng dà dà de.The baby's eyes are big.
  • 今晚 的 月亮 圆 圆 的Jīnwǎn de yuèliàng yuán yuán de.The moon is round tonight.
  • 她 爸爸 高 高 胖 胖 的Tā bàba gāo gāo pàng pàng de.Her father is tall and fat.
  • 我 妹妹 瘦 瘦 小 小 的Wǒ mèimei shòu shòu xiǎo xiǎo de.My little sister is thin and small.

Two-Syllable Adjectives (AABB)

If the adjective has more than one character, then you should repeat each character individually (rather than the whole word). This is known as the "AABB" pattern.

Structure

In the structure below, the original two-character adjective (such as 高兴, 漂亮) is "AB," where the first character of the adjective is represented by "A," and the second by "B."

A A B B + 的 (+ Noun)

Examples

Not all two-syllable adjectives are used in AABB form, but here are some common examples of AB adjectives represented in AABB form.

  • 高兴 → 高高兴兴 gāoxìng → gāo gāo xìng xìnghappy
  • 热闹 → 热热闹闹 rènao → rè rè nāo nāoexciting
  • 漂亮 → 漂漂亮亮 piàoliang → piào piào liāng liāngpretty
  • 舒服 → 舒舒服服 shūfu → shū shū fū fūcomfortable
  • 安静 → 安安静静 ānjìng → ān ān jìng jìngpeaceful

Not all adjectives can take AABB form. Here are some examples of common adjectives that don't work in AABB form.

  • 好吃 → 好好吃吃 hǎochī → hǎo hǎo chī chī tasty
  • 便宜 → 便便宜宜 piányi → piánpiányīyīcheap
  • 麻烦 → 麻麻烦烦 máfan → má má fán fán bothersome

Used as Adverbs (AABB)

When adjectives are used as adverbs to modify verbs, you can reduplicate the adjective using the AABB pattern.

Structure

AABB + 地 + Verb

Examples

  • 我们 清清楚楚 看到 他 跟 一 个 胖 胖 的 男人 上 车 了 。Wǒmen qīng qīng chǔ chǔ de kàndào tā gēn yīgè pàng pàng de nánrén shàngchē le.We clearly saw him get in the car with a fat man.
  • 我 真 想 舒舒服服 躺 在 沙发 上 看 电视 。Wǒ zhēn xiǎng shū shū fū fū de tǎng zài shāfā shàng kàn diànshì.I'd really like to comfortably lie on the couch and watch TV.
  • 你 妈妈 辛辛苦苦 做 了 两 个 小时 的 饭,你 怎么 不 吃 ?辛辛苦苦 is difficult to translate into English directly!Nǐ māma xīn xīn kǔ kǔ de zuò le liǎng gè xiǎoshí de fàn, nǐ zěnme bù chī?Your mother labored over this meal for two hours, and you aren't going to eat it?

Used as Predicates (ABAB)

If you use an adjective as a predicate, then you're basically using the adjective like a verb, and you reduplicate it as you would a verb, which means ABAB form. Using an adjective in this way is roughly equivalent to using 一下 after the (non-reduplicated) adjective.

Structure

To use a reduplicated adjective as a predicate, follow this structure:

Subj. + ABAB

or

Subj. + AB + 一下

In the pattern above there's no verb, because when an adjective serves as the predicate, it does the job of a verb. Notice also that there's no 的 after the ABAB, because it's not acting as an adjective.

Examples

  • 妹妹 快 过 生日 了 ,我 打算 给 她 办 一 个 生日 派对 ,热闹 热闹Mèimei kuàiguò shēngrìle, wǒ dǎsuàn gěi tā bàn yīgè shēngrì pàiduì, rènao rènao.My little sister's birthday is coming and I plan to throw her a birthday party and have a blast.
  • 来 ,喝 点 酒 ,高兴 高兴Lái, hē diǎn jiǔ, gāoxìng gāoxìng.Come on, have a little wine and enjoy yourself.
  • 到 这里 来 凉快 凉快Dào zhèlǐ lái liángkuai liángkuai.Come over here and cool off.
  • 我 想 去 外面 走走 ,安静 一下Wǒ xiǎng qù wàimiàn zǒuzou, ānjìng yīxià.I'd like to take a walk outside. Spend some alone time.
  • 想 不 想 去 做 个 按摩 ,放松 一下Xiǎng bu xiǎng qù zuò gè ànmó, fàngsōng yīxià.Would you like to go get a massage and unwind?

Note: The "AABB" pattern for reduplication of two-syllable adjectives contrasts with the "ABAB" pattern for reduplication of two-syllable verbs.

Sources and further reading

Books