advanced chinese grammar

Holy Moly! 7 Utterly Astounding Advanced Chinese Grammar Structures

“Oh my goodness, I can’t believe that happened!”

“Are you serious? Oh man…”

What do you say in Chinese for all those situations when things are extreme?

In this post we’re going to explore seven advanced Chinese grammar formations that describe all things over-the-top, extreme and colossal.

These phrases fall into the B2 Upper Intermediate level of Chinese, which is similar to HSK level 4.

7 Advanced Chinese Grammar Structures for Unbelievable Situations

1. Adjective + 得不得了 (de bù dé liǎo)

Got a situation in which you’d want to jump for joy? How about a case where you’d tear out your hair in frustration? Here’s the perfect way to describe it in Chinese.

不得了 means extremely or exceedingly. Preceded by an adjective, 不得了 intensifies the situation.

Example A:

因为他老板给他加薪水,所以他高兴得不得了
yīn wèi tā lǎo bǎn gěi tā jiā xīn shuǐ, suǒ yǐ tā gāo xìng de bù dé liǎo!
(Because his boss gave him a raise, he’s happy like mad!)

Example B:

他女朋友答应嫁给他,他兴奋得不得了!
tā nǚ péng yǒu dā yīng jià gěi tā, tā xīng fèn de bù dé liǎo!
(His girlfriend agreed to marry him; he’s super excited!)

Now when you want to describe something as so very…whatever, instead of using boring old (hěn), you can use adjective + 得不得了.

不得了啦!(bù dé liǎo la) is an exclamation of panic, similar to “Oh no!” For example, when your computer crashes and you haven’t saved your work, you’d probably say “哎呀 不得了啦!” (āi yā bù dé liǎo la!)

2. Adjective + 得很 (de hěn)

Here’s another useful way to add emphasis to whatever situation you’re describing: adjective + 得很.

得很 means “very much so.” When it follows a description, you know that the situation is above average intensity!

Example A:

他爸不让她去美国读艺术,她伤心得很.
tā bà bù ràng tā qù měi guó dú yì shù, tā shāng xīn de hěn.
(Her dad won’t let her go to the USA to study art, so she’s extremely upset.)

Example B:

小周的网站被黑了,他生气得很.
xiǎo Zhōu de wǎng zhàn bèi hēi le, tā shēng qì de hěn.
(Zhou’s website has been hacked and he’s terribly angry.)

Adding adjective + 得很 is an easy way to let people know that you’re not joking—it’s really that bad!

我的老婆小气得很 (wǒ de lǎo po xiǎo qì de hěn) My wife is very easily offended.

她的男朋友有钱得很 (tā de nán péng yǒu yǒu qián de hěn) His boyfriend is ultra rich.

What people or situations could you describe with 得很?

3. Adjective + 什么? (shénmē)

Here’s something to say when you think your friend is being ridiculous. Like: Are you serious—why are you thinking this way? Or, why on earth would you do this?

Here’s an example: Let’s say your friend is five years older than you and single, and you lament your own singleness in front of her. Of course she’d be indignant! She’d think:

我都还没有男朋友,  你急什么急?
wǒ dōu hái méi yǒu nán péng yǒu, nǐ  shénmē jí?
(Even I don’t have a boyfriend yet, so why the heck are you in such a hurry?)

Here’s another example: If someone’s whining about a pay cut while other people in the same office have been laid off, you might say to that person:

人家都被下岗了,你还抱怨什么
rén jiā dōu bèi xià gǎng le, nǐ hái bào yuàn shénmē?
(Other people have been laid off, so why on earth are you complaining?)

In sum, adjective + 什么? means “What for?” It’s a rhetorical question that emphasizes your point.

It’s useful for every situation in which you just don’t understand why someone’s reacting the way he or she is.

So the next time you want to tell someone to chill out, just say, “你急什么? 放松一点吧!” (nǐ jí shén mē? fàng sōng yī diǎn ba!) Why are you stressing? Let up a bit!

4. Adjective +  一 点  (yī diǎn)

Yikes, it’s too much! Adjective + 一 点 is for describing things that have gone a little overboard.

Let’s say the day after your friend gets dumped, he posts a mean comment on Facebook about his ex. You text him to say that’s a little harsh:

你这样是不是过分了一点?
nǐ zhè yàng shì bú shì guò fèn le yī diǎn?
(Don’t you think what you’ve done is too harsh?)

Or if you want to admit that your sister can be a bit mean (but you still love her, of course), you might say:

虽然她的性格凶了一点,但是她是一个好姐姐.
suī rán tā de xìng gé xiōng le yī diǎn, dàn shì tā shì yī gè hǎo jiě jiě.
(Even though her personality is a bit hot-tempered, she’s still a great older sister.)

So adjective +  一 点 means that something is a little too much. Use this phrase when you’d really prefer less, not more.

Adjective +  一 点 is particularly useful in situations where you want to be polite and not offend the listener. For example, when you want to tell someone that the soup she cooked is just “a bit” too salty: (xián)了一点; or if your friend’s new haircut is outrageously short, but you choose to comment that it’s only “a little” short: 短 (duǎn)了一点.

5. 甚至… (shèn zhì)

This phrase adds emphasis to your story. It can be roughly translated as “even (to the extent that…)”

甚至… is a good way to tell a story so exaggerated, it’s almost hard to believe it’s true.

Here are two examples:

他看过的英语书籍甚至比老师还多!
tā kàn guò de  yīng yǔ  shū jí  shèn zhì bǐ  lǎo shī hái duō!
(He has read more English books than even the teacher.)

她家里的人都是天才,甚至连她家里的小猫也会唱歌!
tā jiā lǐ de rén dōu shì tiān cái, shèn zhì lián tā jiā lǐ de xiǎo māo yě huì chàng gē!
(Everyone in her family is a genius; even the family’s cat knows how to sing!)

As you practice all these grammatical structures, I’m sure your Chinese will greatly improve, 甚至可以当老师 (shèn zhì kě yǐ dāng lǎo shī), so that you could even become a teacher!

6. 简直… (jiǎn zhí)

Here’s another way to emphasize a point, this time loosely translated as “totally,” “absolutely” or “practically.”

Here are two examples:

当比赛结果被宣布的时候,她简直不能相信自己的耳朵。她居然得了第一名!
dāng bǐ sài jié guǒ bèi xuān bù de shí hòu, tā  jiǎn zhí bù néng xiāng xìn zì jǐ de ěr duo. tā jū rán dé le dì yī míng!
(When the competition results were announced, she practically couldn’t believe her ears. She had won first place!)

你怎么会忘记你的护照呢?简直是个笨蛋!
nǐ zěnme huì wàng jì nǐ de hù zhào nē?jiǎn zhí shì gè bèn dàn!
(How could you forget your passport? What a total idiot!)

Now you know what to say when you feel something is totally genius—简直是天才(tiān cái), absolutely ridiculous—简直荒谬 (huāng miù) or completely awesome—简直一流(yī liú).

7. 太夸张了!(tài kuā zhān le)

Finally, we come to this ever-popular phrase: 太夸张了

This expression can be used for any situation that is way too crazy. The literal translation is “It’s too exaggerated.”

Anytime your friend tells you an over-the-top tale, you can simply respond: 哇,太夸张了!(wā tài kuā zhāng le).

You have a desktop, a laptop, a tablet and an iPad mini? 太夸张了!

You get free coffee and free cigarettes at work? 太夸张了.

Now knowing the above seven grammar formations, you’re well-equipped to handle big and hairy situations with an appropriate Chinese comment. Take the plunge.

Quip that something is out-of-hand (Adjective + 一 点). Observe that something has reached its utmost quality (简直). Exclaim that something is unbelievable (太夸张了). Have fun commenting on all sorts of wild and crazy situations!

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