Adjectival verbs translate into adjectives in English. Mandarin Chinese adjectival verbs, unlike English adjectives, are not preceded by a linking verb such as the verb 是 shì be.
Adjectival verbs translate into adjectives in English. They include 高 gāo ‘to be tall,’ 贵 guì ‘to be expensive,’ 小xiǎo ‘to be small,’ 大dà ‘to be big,’ 好hǎo ‘to be good,’ etc.
Mandarin adjectival verbs, unlike English adjectives, are not preceded by a linking verb such as the verb 是 shì be.
Say this：他高 He is tall. Not this：他是高
Say this：那本书贵 That book is expensive. Not this：那本书是贵
Say this：那个学校大 That school is big. Not this：那个学校是大
The properties of adjectival verbs are discussed below.
1. Negation of adjectival verbs
Adjectival verbs are negated by不 bù. They are never negated by 没méi.
Say this：他不高 He is not tall. Not this：他没高
Say this：那本书不贵 That book is not expensive. Not this：那本书没贵
Say this：那个人不好 That person is not good. Not this：那个人没好
2. Yes–no questions with adjectival verbs
Adjectival verbs can occur in yes–no questions formed by 吗ma or the verb-not-verb structure.
那个学校大吗？ Is that school big?
那个学校大不大？ Is that school big?
3. Modiﬁcation by intensiﬁers
Adjectival verbs can be modiﬁed by intensiﬁers. Most intensiﬁers precede the adjectival verb.
|Intensifier || ||Intensifier + adjectival verb || |
|很 hěn ||very ||很好 hěn hǎo ||to be very good |
|真 zhēn ||really ||真好 zhēn hǎo ||to be really good |
|比较 bǐjiào ||rather ||比较好 bǐjiào hǎo ||to be rather good |
|相当 xiāngdāng ||quite ||相当好 xiāngdāng hǎo ||to be quite good |
|特别 tèbié ||especially ||特别好 tèbié hǎo ||to be especially good |
|非常 fēicháng ||extremely ||非常好 fēicháng hǎo ||to be extremely good |
|尤其 yóuqí ||especially ||尤其好 yóuqí hǎo ||to be especially good |
|极其 jíqí ||extremely ||极其好 jíqí hǎo ||to be extremely good |
|太 tài ||too ||太好 tài hǎo ||to be too good |
|更 gèng ||more ||更好 gèng hǎo ||to be even better |
|最 zuì ||most ||最好 zuì hǎo ||to be best |
The intensiﬁers 得很 de hěn ‘very,’ 极了 jíle ‘extremely,’ and 得不得了debùdéliǎo ‘extremely’ follow the adjectival verb:
好得很 to be very good
好极了 to be terriﬁc
好得不得了 to be terriﬁc
Stative verbs and the modal verbs 会 huì and 能 néng can also be modiﬁed by intensiﬁers.
4. Two syllable preference
Adjectival verbs generally occur in two syllable phrases. In afﬁrmative form, when no special emphasis is intended, one syllable adjectival verbs are usually preceded by 很 hěn. When negated, 不 bù provides the second syllable.
他很高。 He is tall.
他不高。 He is not tall.
那本书很贵。 That book is expensive.
那本书不贵。 That book is not expensive.
5. Comparative meaning
Adjectival verbs do not have a distinct comparative form. However, in certain contexts they have comparative meaning.
They have comparative meaning when the context implies a comparison:
Q: 谁高？Who is tall or Who is taller? A: 他高。He is tall or He is taller.
They have comparative meaning when they occur in comparison structures:
他比你高。He is taller than you.
They also have comparative meaning when they occur in structures that indicate change.
To explicitly express comparative meaning, precede the adjectival verb with the intensiﬁer gèng or the expression 还( 要 ) hái (yào).
他更高。He is (even) taller.
他还（要）高。 He is (even) taller.
6. Superlative meaning
Adjectival verbs do not have a distinct superlative form. To express the superlative meaning, precede the adjectival verb with the intensiﬁer最 zuì ‘most.’
他最高。 He is the tallest.
那本书最贵。That book is the most expensive.
7. Adjectival verbs and comparison structures
Adjectival verbs are used in comparison structures.
Comparison structures involving bm ‘more than’ and méi ynu ‘less than’ typically end with an adjectival verb or a modiﬁed adjectival verb.
我比你高。I am taller than you.
我没有你高。 I am not as tall as you.
8. Linking adjectival verbs
The adverb yòu can be used to link adjectival verbs as follows. The structure is used to convey the meaning ‘both . . . and . . .’
那个男的又高又大。 That guy is both big and tall.
那双鞋子很好。又便宜又舒服。 That pair of shoes is really good. They are both cheap and comfortable.
9. Adjectival verbs and expressions that indicate change over time
9.1 越来越 yuè lái yuè adjectival verb ‘more and more’ adjectival verb
东西越来越贵 。Things are more and more expensive.
9.2 越 yuè action verb 越 yuè adjectival verb ‘the more’ (action), ‘the more’ (adjectival verb)
他越说越快。 The more he speaks, the faster he speaks.
10. Adjectival verbs and sentence ﬁnal – 了le
Sentence ﬁnal - 了le may occur at the end of a sentence with an adjectival verb to indicate change.
你高了。 You have gotten taller.