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. + 了
The 了 is almost always there, but it's not 100%.
In these examples, 可 is used a bit like 很, as it is used to intensify an adjective:
- 这 只 小 狗 可 淘气 了！The speaker never expected puppies to be this naughtyThis puppy is so naughty!
- 我 姐姐 可 好 了！有 什么 好吃 的 都 给 我 留着。My sister is great! Any good food there is she saves some for me.
- 他 可 优秀 了！你 不 想 见见 吗？He is really excellent! Don't you want to meet him?
- 这 个 游戏 可 好玩 了！推荐 给 你。This game is really fun! I recommend it to you.
- 哇 ，这 个 糖醋 里脊 可 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 Phrase
了 is not needed in this pattern, but may be present.
In these examples 可 is used with 别, and sounds a bit like "don't even think about..." in English.
- 你 可 别 喝 太 多 酒。 I know you usually drink a lot, but NOT THIS TIMEDon't drink too much.
- 你 可 别 走！ I'm blocking your way, almost pleading with you, as I believe you are going to leaveDon't go!
- 话 可 不 能 这样 说。 What you said doesn't accord with my own beliefsYou really can't say that.
可 as "Finally"
Sometimes 可 acts like 终于 (zhōngyú), meaning "finally."
可 + Verb Phrase + 了
了 will pretty much always be needed when you're talking about something "finally" happening.
- 你 可 来 了! The speaker never expected it would take so long for you to get hereYou're finally here!
- 可 做 完 了 所有 的 工作。I've finally finished all the work.