Complements of degree in the Chinese language

Complements of degree in the Chinese language

A complement of degree – which makes up part of the verbal complements – serves two functions: first of all it describes the way an action takes place or took place in the past.

In this case, the verbal complement is, most times, a predicative adjective; the complements of degree also specifies the intensity of the action or state expressed in the phrase, citing the consequences produced.

Here are the structures used to construct the complement of degree:

Action verb + 得 (de) + Predicative adjective
Verb / predicative adjective + 得 (de) + Consequence produced

Let’s see a few examples:

Tā shuō de kuài.
She speaks quickly.

Wǒ de lǎoshī kāi dehěn màn.
My teacher drives slowly.

Nǐ de lǎoshī jiāo de zěnmeyàng?
How does your professor teach?

Tā jiāo de bù hǎo.
He doesn’t teach well.

The second use of the complement of degree translates a little bit like the expression “so + adjective + that…”

Here are some examples:

Shuǐliú de méiyǒu rén xiǎng tiàoshuǐ.
The water flows so fast (strong) that nobody wants to take a dip.

Jīntiān tiānqì rè de dàjiā dōu méiyǒu wèikǒu chīfàn.
Today is so hot that no one has an appetite to eat.

Gōnggòng qìchē jǐ de méi fǎzi hūxī.
The bus is so crowded that I can’t breathe.

Nàge xiǎoháizi gāoxìng de dàshēng xiào le.
That kid was so happy that he laughed out loudly.

Since the particle 得 introduces a verbal complement, there must be a verb to its left. In case the verb needs an object after it, you have to double the verb following this structure:

Verb + Object + Verb + 得 (de) + Complement of degree

Here’s an example:

Tā kāi qìchē kāi dé fēicháng hǎo.
He drives very well.

There are many cases, however, when the first verb is omitted. With this second occurrence, it creates a sort of structure theme + comment, so we’ll use this other formula:

Object + Verb + 得 (de) + Complement of degree
Here’s an example:

Qìchē tā kāi dé fēicháng hǎo.
He drives very well.

Note that negations, questions, comparatives and other structures, must be placed after the particle 得 (de).

Here are some examples:

Wǒ de xuésheng dōu kǎo de bù hǎo.
All my students did poorly on the test.

Nǐ kànde qīngchu bù qīngchu?
Do you see / read clearly?

Nǐ tīng de qīngchu ma?
Can you hear clearly?

Tā dǎ lánqiú dǎ de bǐ wǒ hǎo.
He plays basketball better than I.

Tā chīde bǐ wǒ hǎo duō le.
He ate much more than me.

Here are a few frequently used expressions:

忙得要命 (máng de yàomìng) “so busy you could die”
累得要死 (lèi de yàosǐ) “dead tired”
好得很 (hǎo dehěn) “very good”
气得不得了 (qì de bùdéliǎo) “really mad”
饿死了 (èsǐ le) “dying of hunger”
累死我了 (lèisǐ wǒ le) “really tired”

To conclude, let’s see a few intensifiers:

得多 (de duō), 多了 (duō le) “Much more”
得很 (dehěn), 极了 (jí le) “Extremely”

Here are a few examples:

Wǒ de dùzi bǐ nǐ de dà de duō.
My belly is much bigger than yours.

Tā de shēntǐ bǐ yǐqián hǎo duō le.
His health is much better than it was before.

Nà zhī xióngmāo pàng dehěn.
That panda is huge.

Wǒ de nǚpéngyou piàoliang jíle.
My girlfriend is gorgeous.

In the spoken language, to indicate the highest degree of something, you need to insert 什么似的 (shénme shìde) or 跟什么似的 (gēn shénme shìde) right after 得 (de).

For example, “I am extremely happy”, you could say: 我高兴得什么似的 (wǒ gāoxìng de shénme shìde); “I am really scared”, you say: 我吓得什么似的 (wǒ xià de shénme shìde); and so on.

Photo Credits: Photo by quillau on Pixabay

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