Descriptive complement

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Also known as: 描写性补语 (miáoxiě-xìng bǔyǔ), 描述性补语 (miáoshù-xìng bǔyǔ) and complement of description.

In this article, we take a look at how we use 得 (de) to help describe an action. It is one of the characters that often gets confused with 的 and 地, since they could be pronounced as a neutral tone "de."


Descriptive complements are used to describe the action of a verb. This would be done with an adverb in English.

Verb / Adj. + 得 + Descriptive complement


  • 你 说 很 好 。Nǐ shuō de hěn hǎo.You speak very well.
  • 他 做 马马 虎虎 。He did it poorly.
  • 他们 玩 很 开心 。 Tāmen wán de hěn kāixīn. They had a lot of fun.
  • 她 的 文章 写 还 不错 。 Tā de wénzhāng xiě de hái bùcuò. She writes good essays.
  • 孩子们 听 很 认真 。 Háizi men tīng de hěn rènzhēn. The kids are listening very attentively.

Sound familiar?

Chinese complements are not an exact science. You may notice that the above uses of descriptive complements overlap a bit with degree complements. Yes, they do. The main difference is that descriptive complements can get way more... descriptive, whereas degree complements are much more concerned with degree. The overlap tends to happen when the complements are extremely simple.

See also

Sources and further reading