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Grammar Notes for lesson 8

Complement of degree construction

A complement of degree construction is used to describe how an action is habitually carried out, as in 他 吃 得 很 快 tā chī de hěn kuài he eats very fast. The verb is placed before 得 de, while the elements which follow 得 de are usually adverbs describing the outcome of the action.

This construction can also be used to describe a particular action. For example, in  昨 天 晚 上 我 作 饭 作 得 很 好 zuótiān wǎnshang wǒ zuò fàn zuò de hěn hǎo last night I cooked the meal very well, 很 好 hěn hǎo describes the outcome of the cooking. (See lessons 19)

Potential verb phrases

A potential verb phrase is used to indicate that an action can or cannot be achieved. It is formed from a verb of action with 得 de  [for affirmative] or 不 [for negative] and is followed by a resultative or directional word, as in 吃 得 完 chī de wán  to be able to finish eating.  走 不 进 去 zǒu bu jìn qù to be unable to walk in.
Most resultative or directional verb phrases can be turned into potential verb phrases by inserting  得 de or 不 between the verb and its resultative or directional word. But some potential verb phrases such as 对 不 起 duì bùqǐ are only used as idiomatic expressions.


can be used as an adverb to reinforce a statement or to emphasise desires and feelings. 可 can precede the linking verb 是 shì  as in 小 王 可 是 一个 大 忙 人 Xiǎo Wǎng kě shì yí ge dà máng rén Xiao Wang is a really busy person.
A stative verb such as 好 hǎo good or 忙 máng busy, or a modal verb such as 想 xiǎng intend to … or 喜 欢 xǐhuān  like to.. can be placed between 可…了 kě ...le to form an affirmative construction. The negative form is 可 不… kě bù, but 了 le is not used, for instance, 今 天 可 冷 了 jīntiān kě lěng le today is really cold.  我 可 想 去 中 国 了 wǒ kě xiǎng qù Zhōngguó le I really want to go to China. 我 可 不 喜 欢 吃 英 国 菜 wǒ kě bù xǐhuān chī Yīngguó cài I really don’t like eating English food.

The conditional construction with 要是… 就... yàoshi…jiù...

The 要 是… 就...  yàoshi…jiù... construction is used to form a conditional sentence. The condition is placed after the 要 是 yàoshi clause, and the consequence is placed after 就  jiù