Jump start your Chinese (2) Predicate

From last post for Tense, we know that “Predicate” is very important and frequently used in Chinese language. What is a Predicate?

According to Cambridge Dictionary, Predicate is in grammar, the part of a sentence that contains the verb and givesinformation about the subject.

I would say, first, “contains the verb” is about English, because in Chinese, there are quite some cases that there is no verb in a sentence, and still, it’s predicate! Please see these two sentences,

zài sì chuān. 我在四川。(I am in Sichuan. ) Present Tense

qù nián wǔ yuè, wǒ zài sì chuān. 去年五月,我在四川。(Last May, I was in Sichuan.) Past Tense

míng nián, wo huì zài sì chuān. 明年,我会在四川。(Next year, I will be in Sichuan.) Future Tense

From last post, we knew, “zài 在” is prep., meaning “in or at” a location. It is not a verb, but the underlined part is a predicate. For English speakers, the very familiar “be-verb” (shì 是 in Chinese) is not used here.

Here is another very confusing sentence. When you want to say “I am fine”, you go with “wǒ shì hǎo. 我是好。” This will be wrong!!! The correct sentence will be “wǒ hěn hǎo. 我很好。” Remember this sentence, because this structure will be very widely used. For example,

hěn gāo xìng. (I am happy.) 我很高兴。

hěn shēng qì. (I am angry.) 我很生气。

hěn gāo. (He is tall.) 他很高。

“Hěn 很” has the meaning of “very”, but when used as a predicate, the “very” is not emphasised. If you want to emphasise “very much”, one could say “wǒ fēi cháng gāo xìng.“(我非常高兴。) Again, underlined part is predicate, you will not find a verb there.

Another thing is, “shì 是” bears a sense of stating a matter of fact, on the contrary, “hěn 很” or “fēi cháng 非常” etc. could be used as depicting a feeling, a could-have-changed situation. For instance,

wǒ de qún zi shì hóng de. (My dress is red.) 我的裙子是红的。

wǒ de qún zi hěn hóng. (My dress is very red.) 我的裙子很红。

In the second sentence here, one would not know how red is this dress, “hěn” appeared as a word bearing its original meaning as well — “very”.

Here, Let us look at what HSK 1 level text book says about it for the beginning: