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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.

Structure

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.

Examples

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 ?Tā shuō de zhème kuài, nǐmen tīng de dǒng ma?He speaks so fast. Can you guys understand?
  • 我 没 想到 这个 考试 这么 难 。Wǒ méi xiǎng dào zhège kǎoshì zhème nán.I didn't expect this exam would be this difficult.
  • 这么 大,明天 再 去 吧 。zhème dà, míngtiān zài qù ba.The rain is so heavy. How about we go tomorrow?
  • 那么 聪明 ,一定 能 猜到 。nàme cōngming, yīdìng néng cāi dào.You're so smart. You can definitely guess it.
  • 老板 那么 忙 ,肯定 没 时间 。Lǎobǎn nàme máng, kěndìng méi shíjiān.The boss is so busy. He definitely won't have time for this.
  • 今天 怎么 这么 冷 ?Jīntiān zěnme zhème lěng?Why is it so cold today?
  • 你 怎么 这么 没 礼貌 ?Nǐ zěnme zhème méi lǐmào?How can you be this impolite?
  • 这个 外国人 怎么 会 了解 那么 多 中国 历史 ?Zhège wàiguórén zěnme huì liǎojiě nàme duō Zhōngguó lìshǐ?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 。Zhōngguó rénkǒu zhème duō, dāngrán huì yǒu hěn duō shèhuì wèntí.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 。Kējì nàme fādá, shénme dōu shì yǒu kěnéng de.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.

See also

Sources and further reading

Books