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You are using 很 (very) wrong!

Does 很 always mean 'very'?

Today we will learn:

  • Whether 很 always means 'very'.

  • Better words to use instead of 很

  • Proper sentence structures to using 很 correctly

1. Does 很 always mean very?

The answer is no. 很 does not always mean ‘very’.

'我很帅' (wǒ hěn shuài) doesn't mean 'I am very handsome'. You may be thinking that the translation of 很 on all translation tools point to the definition of 'very'. However, in the sentence structure: 'Noun + 很 + adjective', 很 essentially has the same meaning as 是 (shì) 'to be'. We cannot say 我是帅, so we have to replace '是' with '很' to connect a noun to an adjective.

2. You want to say 'very'?

For example, if you want to say 'He is very tall', here are better words to use instead of: '他很高' (Tā hěn gāo.) 'He is tall'.

1. 非常 (fēi cháng): Very / Extremely. You can say '他非常高' which means he is very tall.

2. 真 (zhēn): Really. You can say '他真高'. 'He is really tall'.

3. 特别 (tè bié): Special. But it means very / especially if you are using it to connect a noun to an adjective. For example, '他特别高' means 'he is very tall'.

4. 好 (hǎo): Good. Again, you can use it to mean 'very' when connecting a noun to an adjective. For example, you can say '他好高'. 'He is very tall'.

5. 比较 (bǐ jiào) Rather / Relatively. 他比较高 means 'He is rather tall'.

So when does 很 mean very?

Sentence structure 1: Subject + 很 + psychological verbs

Psychological verbs are known as 心理动词 (xīnlǐ dòngcí) in Chinese and these are verbs related to feelings, which express the mental attitude of a speaker.

Here are some examples:

爱 (ài): To love

喜欢 (xǐ huan): To like

珍惜 (zhēn xī): To cherish

羡慕 (xiàn mù): To envy

讨厌 (tǎo yàn): To hate

想念 (xiǎng niàn): To miss

希望 (xī wàng): To hope

很 in this sentence structure means ‘very’ and it intensifies the feeling of the verb. For example, if you say 我喜欢你 it means 'I like you' and the person might think that you are not that serious with them. But if you say 我很喜欢你。It means 'I really like you'.

Sentence structure 2: Adjective + 得很

This adds even more emphasis compared to the sentence structure: Noun + 很 + adjective and almost always comes at the end of a sentence.

For example, you can say '最近我忙得很' (Zuìjìn wǒ máng de hěn.) which means 'I have been VERY busy lately.' You can also say '最近我很忙', this means 'I have been busy lately' and doesn’t have the same intensity as the first sentence.

That’s it for today where we learned where 很 doesn’t mean very, better words to us instead of 很, and other instances where it does mean very. For example, when used with psychological verbs and in the sentence structure: 'Adjective + 得很'.

If you want to watch the video lesson, click below:

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