Adjectives with "name" and "zheme"
In English, the words "that" and "so" are often used to emphasize the degree of an adjective (ex. "he is so tall" or "the food is so good"). In Chinese, 那么 (nàme) and 这么 (zhème) serve the same function.
All you have to do to use this grammar structure is put the 那么 or 这么 in front of the adjective.
Subj. + 那么 / 这么 + Adj.
You could think of 这么 as "this" or "so," and 那么 as "that" or "so."
- 他 说得 这么 快 ，你们 听 得 懂 吗 ？He speaks so fast. Can you guys understand?
- 我 没 想到 这个 考试 这么 难 。I didn't expect this exam would be this difficult.
- 雨 这么 大，明天 再 去 吧 。The rain is so heavy. How about we go tomorrow?
- 你 那么 聪明 ，一定 能 猜到 。You're so smart. You can definitely guess it.
- 老板 那么 忙 ，肯定 没 时间 。The boss is so busy. He definitely won't have time for this.
- 今天 怎么 这么 冷 ？Why is it so cold today?
- 你 怎么 这么 没 礼貌 ？How can you be this impolite?
- 这个 外国人 怎么 会 了解 那么 多 中国 历史 ？How could this foreigner know that much about Chinese history?
- 中国 人口 这么 多 ，当然 会 有 很 多 社会 问题 。China has such a big population. Of course there will be many social problems.
- 科技 那么 发达 ，什么 都 是 有 可能 的 。Science and technology is so developed. Anything is possible.
When to use which one
You might be thinking that since 这 ("this") and 那 ("that") have totally different meanings, how could they be used in an essentially interchangeable way? Well, there are some differences. 这么 is used when the subject is close by (either in space or in time), when you would say "this" or 这个. On the other hand, if the subject is far away (or in the past), you would likely use 那么.
Sources and further reading
- Short-term Spoken Chinese: Elementary (汉语口语速成基础篇) (pp. 15) [ →buy]
- Integrated Chinese: Level 1, Part 2 (3rd ed) (pp. 71 - 2) →buy
- New Practical Chinese Reader 4 (新实用汉语课本4) (pp. 103) →buy