Chinese Grammar Bank


In Chinese, 是 (shì) is used to connect nouns to other nouns to show that “a noun is another noun”.

However, to connect nouns to adjectives, 很 (hěn) is used instead of 是 (shì).

很 translates to “very” or “quite” as an adverb of degree.


When used with adjectives, 很 (hěn) simply links the subject of the sentence to the adjective without necessarily implying “very” or “quite”.

In these kinds of sentences, 很 functions the same as 是, to be, and is used to form sentences that show “noun is adjective” or “is noun adjective?”

NOTE || 是 cannot be used to connect nouns and adjectives.


Noun + 很 + Adjective (+ 吗)

tā de qúnzi hěn chǎng.


Her skirt is long
jīntiān wǒ hěn máng.


I am busy today
lǎoshī hěn shēngqì ma?


Is the teacher angry?
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我等着很长时间。wǒ děngzhe hěn cháng shíjiān.I’ve been waiting for a long time.
你妹妹很可爱。nǐ mèimei hěn kě’ài.Your younger sister is cute.
我的家人都很高。wǒ de jiārén dōu hěn gāo.All my family members are tall.


很 is used with 得 (de) after adjectives for emphasis.

This structure intensifies the meaning of the adjective compared to a normal 很 + adjective sentence.


Subject + Adjective + 得很

jīntiān wǒ máng de hěn.


I am very busy today.
bié dǎrǎo tā, xiànzài tā lèi de hěn.


bié dǎrǎo tā, xiànzài tā lèi de hěn.


很 is used with verbs that indicate emotional states to intensify and emphasize the meaning of the verb.

Some of these include 喜欢 (xǐhuān), 希望 (xīwàng), 想 (xiǎng), 讨厌 (tǎoyàn), 怕 (pà) among others.

This structure doesn’t apply to all verbs. Normally the sentence would be correct without 很.


Subject + 很 + Verbs showing emotional state

hěn xǐhuān nǐ de huà.


I really like your paintings.
hěn xiǎng wǒ bà mā.


I miss my dad and mum so much.
hěn tǎoyàn nǐ de nǚ péngyǒu


He really hates your girlfriend.
hěn pà yīgè rén liú zài jiālǐ.


I’m terrified of being at home alone.

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What does 很 mean?

很 (hěn) means “very” or “quite”. However, in a basic sentence, it functions as a linking word for nouns and adjectives, the same way 是 links nouns to nouns.

What is the sentence structure for 很?

Here are the 3 sentence structures for 很.

With adjectives: Noun + 很 + Adjective (+ 吗)

With verbs: Subject + 很 + Verbs showing emotional state

As a complement: Subject + Adjective + 得很

What can I use to indicate “very” in a sentence in Chinese?

You can use 非常 (fēicháng) to indicate “very”.

Since 很 is used a linking word for nouns and adjectives, it shows the basic relationship between a noun and adjective. 非常 (fēicháng) is an adverb of degree.

I am tired. 我很累。wǒ hěn lèi.

I am very tired. 我非常累。wǒ fēicháng lèi

I am busy. 我很忙。wǒ hěn máng.

I am very busy. 我非常忙。wǒ fēicháng máng.

When do I use 很 and when do I use 是?

Use 很 when you want to say that a noun is an adjective. This is when you’re describing a nounNoun + 很 + Adjective

中国很大。zhōngguó hěn dà. China is big.

她很好。tā hěn hǎo. She is good.

老虎很大。lǎohǔ hěn dà. Tigers are big.

Use 是 when you want to say that a noun is another noun. This is when you want to define a noun: Noun + 是 + Noun

他是中国人。tā shì zhōngguó rén. He is Chinese.

她是个好人。tā shì ge hǎo rén. She is a good person.

老虎是一只大猫。lǎohǔ shì yī zhǐ dà māo. A tiger is a big cat.

How can I learn to make proper sentences in Chinese?

Our first advice would be to start taking classes with a professional teacher to help you with this.

That way, you get a structured course and can monitor your progress.

If you cannot take classes at the moment, you can learn some basic Chinese grammar to make sentences here and sentence structures here.

Don’t forget to also check our Grammar Bank that we are frequently updating with new grammar points.

How can improve my reading in Chinese?

If you have learnt at least 100 characters, then you can start reading in Chinese!

Yes, even without an extensive vocabulary under your belt, you can start reading Chinese to improve your skills. Graded readers are novels written specifically for language learners of all different levels.

Here are our recommendations of the best graded readers for Chinese.