Chinese grammar: Simple "noun + adjective" sentences

In English, nouns can be linked to adjectives and other nouns with the verb to be. In Chinese, nouns are linked in different ways to adjectives and other nouns. Nouns are linked to nouns with 是. Nouns are linked to adjectives with 很(hěn).


The noun in this structure is the subject of the sentence. Sometimes the 很 in this structure is translated as "very", but often it is just a way to link a noun to an adjective.

In the following examples, 很 is just a link, and the sentences could be translated as "(Noun) is (adjective)".
Simple 很 sentences

Subject Adjective   Translation
I’m good.
She’s tall.
高兴 He is happy.
好看 You are good-looking.
大象 The elephant is big.
老鼠 The mouse is small.

Remember that 是 is not used to link adjectives to nouns. This is a classic mistake that almost everyone makes when learning Chinese. Make sure you use 很 and not 是 to link adjectives to nouns, as shown below:

X 他是高。
√ 他很高。

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