Expressing "even" with "shenzhi"
甚至 (shènzhì) is similar to "even" in English and is used for emphasis. Like "even," it can be used quite directly or in a more subtle manner. When used more subtly it acts to supplement the speaker’s initial thought, creating the impression that the speaker has realized half way through his statement that he hasn’t gone far enough, and wants to take the idea one step further.
甚至 Used to Emphasize a Noun
Note the word or phrase following 甚至 often uses 也 or 都 to add further emphasis. The noun being emphasized is the "surprising" one or one that is the most "extreme."
[Noun or Group of Nouns] + 甚至 + [Emphasized Noun] + 都 / 也 ⋯⋯
- 每 个 观众 甚至 裁判 都 站 起来 给 他 鼓掌。Each and every member of the audience, and even the referee, stood up and applauded for him.
- 我 去 过 很 多 中国 的 城市，北京、上海、杭州、昆明、桂林，甚至 拉萨 我 也 去 过。I've been to many cities in China: Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Kunming, Guilin. I even went to Lhasa once.
- 我的 朋友 都 不 喜欢 我 的 决定，甚至 我 的 家人 也 不 支持。None of my friends like my decision, and even my family doesn't support it.
- 他 很 喜欢 玩 手机，吃饭 的时候，坐 地铁 的时候，甚至 上 厕所 的时候 也 在 玩。He likes playing on his cell phone when he's eating, taking the metro, even when he goes to the bathroom.
甚至 in Complex Sentences
Note the sentence following 甚至 often uses 也 or 都 to add further emphasis, and 连 (lián) sometimes directly follows 甚至 for further "even" emphasis.
⋯⋯，甚至 + (连) ⋯⋯ + 都 / 也
- 他 太 忙 了，甚至 吃 中饭 的 时间 都 没有。He's too busy. He doesn't even have time to eat lunch.
- 他 从来 不 聊 工作 的 事，甚至 跟 他 老婆 也 不 说。He never talks about work, not even to his wife.
- 这 个 问题 很 简单，甚至 连 孩子 都 知道。This question is simple, even kids know the answer.
- 我 男朋友 很 喜欢 游泳，甚至 连 冬天 也 游。My boyfriend likes swimming a lot. He goes swimming even when it's winter.
- 几 年 不 见，他 变 胖 了 很 多，甚至 连 我 这 个 老 朋友 都 认 不 出来 了。I haven't seen him for a few years and he's gotten much fatter. I, as an old friend, couldn't even recognize him.
Sources and further reading
- HSK Standard Course 4上 (pp. 48) Anything Goes (无所不谈) →buy
- Integrated Chinese: Level 2, Part 1 (pp. 228) Anything Goes (无所不谈) →buy
- New Practical Chinese Reader 5 (新实用汉语课本5) (pp. 72) Anything Goes (无所不谈) →buy
- Short-term Spoken Chinese: Pre-Intermediate (汉语口语速成提高篇) (pp. 133) Anything Goes (无所不谈) →buy