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Adjectives - Lots of Adjectives

For years we've seen our students struggle with using adjectives in Mandarin. The grammar (explained below) is easy enough but one of the biggest issues is that most textbooks simply don't have enough adjectives in their vocabulary lists. We're compiling a master file of adjectives and will continue to add to it. Get started studying here:


First and foremost, adjectives in Mandarin usually come before the noun they describe. For example, to say "a beautiful flower," you would say "一个美丽的花" (yí gè měi lì de huā). The adjective "美丽" (měi lì), which means "beautiful," comes before the noun "花" (huā), which means "flower."

It's important to note that Mandarin adjectives do not change form based on gender, number, or tense, unlike some other languages. So, whether you're describing a man, a woman, one thing, or many things, the adjective remains the same.

In addition to using adjectives before nouns, Mandarin also has a few ways to use adjectives as standalone phrases. One common way is to add the character "的" (de) after the adjective. For example, you can say 很漂亮的衣服 (hěn piào liang de yifu) to mean "beautiful clothes." Another way is to use adjectives as predicate phrases, such as "她很漂亮" (tā hěn piào liang), meaning "she is very pretty."

When it comes to expressing degrees of an adjective, Mandarin has a few common ways to do so. One way is to use the adverb "很" (hěn), which means "very" or "quite." For example, "这件衣服很好看" (zhè jiàn yī fú hěn hǎo kàn) means "this clothes are very pretty." Another way is to use comparative structures, such as "比...更" (bǐ...gèng) to mean "more...than." For example, "这个苹果比那个苹果更甜" (zhè gè píng guǒ bǐ nà gè píng guǒ gèng tián) means "this apple is sweeter than that apple."

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