Emphatic adverb "ke"


可 (kě) can be used to intensify an adjective, or to add emphasis to a verb. It is stronger than other modifiers, as 可 compares the speaker‘s expectations with the actual situation. The meaning of 可 is very reliant on context.

可 is generally used by Northern speakers and is informal, generally only used in spoken Chinese.

可 used to intensify an adjective


可 + Adj.


In these examples, 可 is used a bit like 很, as it is used to intensify an adjective:

  • 这 只 小 狗 淘气 了!The speaker never expected puppies to be this naughtyThis puppy is so naughty!
  • 哇,这 个 糖醋 里脊 好吃 了!The speaker never dreamt that sweet and sour pork could taste this goodWow! This sweet and sour pork is delicious!

可 used to emphasize a verb


可 + Verb


In these examples 可 is used a bit like 真, and used to emphasize a verb:

  • 来 了! The speaker never expected it would take so long for you to get here)
  • 别 喝 太 多 酒。 I'm not expecting you to drink a lot)
  • 别 走! I'm blocking your way, almost pleading with you, as I believe you are going to leave)
  • 不 能 这 样 说。 What you said doesn't accord with my own beliefs)

In two of the sentences above, 可 is used with 别, and sounds a bit like "don't even think about..." in English.

See also

Sources and further reading