MYTUTOR SUBJECT ANSWERS

913 views

Why is it not '我是好'? In basic adjectival sentences, why is the copula verb 'to be' not used?

Take the simple sentence 'I am good' - 'I' is the subject, 'am' is the first-person of the verb 'to be', and 'good' is the adjective.

In English, the verb 'to be' is needed in adjectival sentences to link the subject to the adjective. It is needed because full sentences need at least a subject + verb. Here, this is a special type of verb called the copula.

However, in Chinese, this is different. In adjectival sentences, the Chinese verb for 'to be' - '是' (shi4) - is not used. In fact, it is wrong to use it

So, 'I am good' is '我很好’ (wo1 hen3 hao3), '很' being an adverb to mean 'very'. 

'很' is not a copula verb! It is simply added because the Chinese language does not like monosyllabic adjectives in sentences, so 很 is added regardless of whether you are actually 'very' good.

The reason Chinese adjectives do not need a copula verb linking them to the subject is because Chinese adjectives are actually 'stative verbs'. They are verbs which describe the state of something/someone - 'I am happy', 'he is sad', 'the ice-cream is cold', 'my tea is hot' etc.

So, if Chinese adjectives are actually a type of verb, they already fulfil the basic sentence structure requirement of 'subject + verb'. We say that they have a built-in copula.

This is why you do not need the verb 'to be' ('是') in adjectival sentences.

It is a common mistake made among students, so hopefully this explanation has helped you understand why you don't use '是' here.

Kwan Yee L. GCSE Mandarin tutor, A Level Mandarin tutor, 13 Plus  Man...

2 years ago

Answered by Kwan Yee, a GCSE Mandarin tutor with MyTutor


Still stuck? Get one-to-one help from a personally interviewed subject specialist

19 SUBJECT SPECIALISTS

£30 /hr

Vicky H.

Degree: Dentistry (Masters) - Leeds University

Subjects offered:Mandarin, Science+ 12 more

Mandarin
Science
Maths
Human Biology
English Literature
English Language
Chemistry
.UKCAT.
.BMAT (BioMedical Admissions)
-Personal Statements-
-Oxbridge Preparation-
-Medical School Preparation-

“Hi I'm Vicky, I'm a 2nd year dental student at the University of Leeds. I am friendly and patient and have a love for science, maths and teaching.”

£18 /hr

Lisa G.

Degree: Chemical Engineering (Integrated Masters) - Cambridge University

Subjects offered:Mandarin, Science+ 4 more

Mandarin
Science
Maths
Further Mathematics
Chemistry
-Oxbridge Preparation-

“Cambridge Engineering student gives online Maths and Chemistry tutoring, and Oxbridge admission preparation”

MyTutor guarantee

£24 /hr

Jay G.

Degree: Biological Sciences (Biochemistry) (Bachelors) - Edinburgh University

Subjects offered:Mandarin, Maths+ 2 more

Mandarin
Maths
Chemistry
Biology

“I am here not only to help you get better at exams, but to help you enjoy your subject more”

About the author

Kwan Yee L.

Currently unavailable: for new students

Degree: Oriental Studies (Chinese) (Bachelors) - Oxford, St Anne's College University

Subjects offered:Mandarin, History+ 4 more

Mandarin
History
Extended Project Qualification
English Literature
English Language
-Personal Statements-

“Who am I, and why do I teach? I’m Michelle, a 3rd year undergraduate studying Oriental Studies at Oxford. I’ve been tutoring for 4 years now. Being inspired by people, places, and cultures – that’s why I study languages, literature, ...”

MyTutor guarantee

You may also like...

Other GCSE Mandarin questions

How do you use the grammar particle 了(le)?

What are some tips for succeeding in the listening part of the exam?

Why is it not '我是好'? In basic adjectival sentences, why is the copula verb 'to be' not used?

Analyze the sentence structure in “He looks cute”

View GCSE Mandarin tutors

We use cookies to improve your site experience. By continuing to use this website, we'll assume that you're OK with this. Dismiss

mtw:mercury1:status:ok