How to differentiate adjectives from verbs?

How to differentiate adjectives from verbs?

Adjectives and verbs in Chinese have very similar uses. In order to use them well, it’s very necessary to differentiate them.

Similarities between adjectives from verbs

Both Chinese adjectives and Chinese verbs can be modified by 不, such as 不好,不走.

Both can act as predicates such as


他妈妈疯了 His mother got crazy,他妹妹去德国了 His sister wen to Germany.

Both can be used in the form of “_不_” such as 高不高? 走不走?

Both adjectives and verbs can reduplicate


慢 → 慢慢, 高兴 → 高高兴兴,  陆续 → 陆陆续续

看 → 看看,  尝→ 尝尝,  听→ 听听

Differences between adjectives from verbs

Most of the adjectives except some stative adjectives can be modified by adverbs of degree.


很冷 very cold; 非常好吃 very delicious; 实在抱歉 really sorry; 十分漂亮 very beautiful

In contrast, most of the verbs except psychological verbs can not be modified by adverbs of degree.

You can’t say 我很走,我非常学习, 我朋友十分工作, 小刘很旅游 etc.

Adjectives can’t have objects, while verbs can have.

Even though Chinese adjectives can act as predicates directly, they can’t take any objects. Examples:

我很累 I’m very tired.  教室很脏 The classroom is very dirty.

For Chinese verbs, only the transitive verbs can take objects, but the intransitive verbs can not take any. Examples:

他想吃苹果 He likes to eat apples. 她发表了很多文章 She published many articles.

See also:

Characteristics of Chinese adjectives

Non-predicate adjectives 非谓语形容词

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