好 (very)

Discussion in '中文+方言 (Chinese)' started by MFoogle, Sep 26, 2010.

  1. MFoogle New Member

    American English
    Just from exposure, I've seen 好 used in a lot of situations that don't really make sense if I translate it as "good."
    This mostly happens when it's in front of other adjectives.

    For example

    In these cases, it's translated as "very" or "really," right?
    Can it always be used like this, or only in certain cases--like with certain adjectives?
  2. xiaolijie

    xiaolijie MOD

    English (UK)
    Yes, you can use it with many adjectives (A very common phrase is "好久不见" :)). For emphasis, it's better than 很 because 很 often carries no emphasis. I'm not aware of any restriction other than in front of another 好.
  3. wacdjb Member

    China Chinese
    "好" actually could be used in front of another "好",
    such as:
    "好好学习 (study hard/diligently)",
    "好好干(work hard)",
    "好好坐着(sit still)",
    "好好照顾自己(take good care of yourself)",
    "好好休息(have a good rest)"...

    In my opinion, in such kind of structure "好好XX", the phrase "好好" plays the role of an adverb, and usually "XX" should be a verb (verb phrase).
  4. xiaolijie

    xiaolijie MOD

    English (UK)
    That is not strictly true. Here, "好好" is one linguistic unit (an adverb, used to modify something else), whereas in those examples in post #1, "好+adjective" are two linguistic units, one modifying the other (and in that situation, 好 can't not be used to modify another 好).
  5. wacdjb Member

    China Chinese
    Sure. I didn't mean that the former 好 is modifying the latter one in the phrase "好好" either, so I added at the end of my post that "好好" plays the role of an adverb. As you said, the phrase itself is a linguistic unit. I just wanted to supplement that a character "好" may appear in front of another one, and of course, they should always be used together.

    Thank you for reminding me, xiaolijie. :)
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2010
  6. wacdjb Member

    China Chinese
    It suddenly came to me that there is an exception in colloquial Chinese.

    For example: 你妈妈她人好好 (好坏)哦。
    The first 好 is an adverb, and the second one is an adjective.
  7. lumiere137 Senior Member

    Mandarin Chinese
    Yeah. But please note such parlance is considered girly.
  8. MFoogle New Member

    American English
    Ok, thank you everyone for your responses! =]
  9. Clement_Sun Member

    I have an idea to translate 好累 ;好可爱 ;(他人真的是)好好: you can consider 好 here = Pretty in English.
    =Pretty tired; Pretty cute(make sense?); pretty good.

    For 好好学习 etc. That's another story.
  10. MFoogle New Member

    American English
    Ok, that's a really good explanation too! Thanks =]
  11. SuperChrist Member

    Situation 1: 好 in many case, I suggest you understand it as a degree adverb, which modify adjective but also verb. For example: 好累 that is too tired. 好好学习 that is please study hard.
    Situation 2: 好 also can be a adjective, which modify nouns, in such case, people tends to use 好 as good, nice or something praising . like:好人, 好样的(好样is a noun, which becomes a adjective when plus a 的)
    I m not a expert, so that 's only what I can summary.
  12. baosheng Senior Member

    Canada, English
    Yes, I've noticed that certain expressions or ways of saying things can be considered "girly" sometimes.

    Does this apply just to that sentence? (你妈妈她人好好 (好坏)哦。) or can using 好 to replace 很 in general (when it is not doubled) be considered slightly girly too?
    (excluding the use of 哦/也/喔 at the end of a sentence)

    I have the habit of using 很 and 好 interchangeably but never thought of whether it was considered "girly".

    Last edited: Jun 3, 2013
  13. YangMuye

    YangMuye Senior Member

    Cantonese people use 好 a lot.
    They seem to use 好 where we use 很 in Mandarin.


    I feel that 好 is usually used to express your feeling.

    They sound like the speaker is just complaining.
    A listener will probably answer with something like “是啊”“我也是”.

    他好痛苦 does not sound so natural to me unless the 好 is not modifying 痛苦, for example, when you mean you heartily sympathize him.

    好 can be compared with 真.


    On the other hand, using 很 is not so natural when you just want to express your feeling.

    It sounds like the speaker is very unpleased with me.


    I will say “好热” when there is no listener, but I will never use “很热” in the same situation.

    “很热” sounds like a conclusion, a statement, or an answer to “how hot it is/is it hot or not”.
    When I speak to a listener, I use both “今天好热啊” and “今天很热啊”。
    The first one sounds like “It's so hot today” and the second one sounds like “It's hot today, isn't it”.


    If other native speakers use 好/很 in the same way as me, then I may reach the conclusion that:
    好 and 很 are modal adverbs:
    好 is interjective mood;
    很 is assertive mood.


    I (male) use 好 a lot, especially when playing computer games,

    Maybe 好 is considered girly because girls are “多愁善感”? Using interjection a lot may be considered girly too.


    I say 好漂亮 sometimes, but I don't say 好可爱 or 好好吃 often.
    I say 漂亮! and 好吃! when I feel amazed.
    I use 很可爱/挺可爱 and 挺好吃的/很好吃 too, which may sound like affirmation.
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2013
  14. baosheng Senior Member

    Canada, English
    ! 哇, thanks so much for your comprehensive reply, YangMuye ! I am impressed by your ability to analyze it so well and think that you are spot on.

    By the way, this means "I am annoyed", right? Could it also mean "I am so troublesome", as in I cause trouble to other people? (and therefore have a double meaning?)
    (oh, if they are replaced with 我好烦/我好烦啊", that is)

    Thanks again for your help :)
  15. SuperXW

    SuperXW Senior Member

    Doesn't the meaning of "very" included in dictionaries? I think it does...
  16. stellari Senior Member

    Mandarin Chinese
    你很烦 would be 'you are annoying'. I believe that is short for '你很烦人'. On the other hand, 我很烦 would be short for '我很烦燥' (I'm annoyed). So those two 烦's are actually different words. If you want to say 'I'm troublesome/annoying', you'd better use the full form: "我很烦人".

    So why can we shorten 我很烦躁 but not 我很烦人? because the latter is used much less frequently.
  17. YangMuye

    YangMuye Senior Member

    I reviewed this paragraph again and think it is not appropriate to say 好 is interjective mood.
    好 must be a modal adverb, it means something like “I really think/I really feel” but is only used when an adverb of degree is required.
    真 is aslo a modal adverb. But there are some difference between 真 and 好. It is used when an adverb of certainty is required.
    For example, we say 他真是人才 while we don't say 他好是人才.

    I feel little difference between 他好烦 and 他真烦,天好热 and 天真热,
    however, I say 我好累/我好烦/我好饿 while I do not say 我真累/我真烦/我真饿.
    真累(啊)/真烦(啊)/真饿(啊) is ok, which suggest that the subject of the sentence is absent rather than omitted. The structures of “累” and “我累” are totally different.

    我好烦 is usually “I'm annoyed”. Usually I will simply say 好烦啊 instead.
    我真烦 sounds unusual. It's more like “I'm realy troublesome”? Maybe the speaking is watch a video or movie about him? Anyway, I will not use it.

    我很烦 is usually “I'm annoyed”.
    I will not use 我很烦 to express my emotion.
    If I say 我很烦, I ususally mean 我(现在)很烦(,所以不要打扰我).

    I think “我很烦” may also mean “I'm troublesome”, but I can't think of a context in which I will use it.
    Even when you want to express such sence, adding 的 (我很烦的) will make it a litter more clear, as 的 is a partical which is usually used to emphasize an existing fact to persuade people.
    我很烦啊 still sounds awkward.

    I don't consider 我很烦 as a contraction of anything. 烦 is not the only example which can be used to express speaker's emotion.
    我好恶心 <-> 他好恶心


    好 and 真 are more subjective.
    很 is more objective.
    Both 很 and 真(used in statements) are more or less based on facts.
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2013
  18. YangMuye

    YangMuye Senior Member

    I think words expressing emotions are ususally used in (at least) the following ways:

    1. state the subject's (current/usual) emotional state (他很高兴)
    2. state the subject is apt to feel a particular emotion (他很暴躁)
    3. state the subject is apt to raise a particular emotion (这件事情很无聊)
    4. express the speaker's emotion (好开心)
    5. state the subject's attitude to something (我很烦他)
    Different languages may use different words/forms for these usages.

    烦 is usually 1 3 or 5.
    烦躁 is 1
    暴躁 is 2
    枯燥 is 3
    无聊 is 1 3

    We ususlly use “容易~” or “好~” to epxress 2.
    Words like “可~”(“可怕”“可爱”) and “~人”(气人、烦人) are usually 3.
    Structures like “让人~”“令人~”“叫人~” are usually 3.
    Adverbs like 好 is usually used to express 4.

    For words like 烦/无聊, I don't know any general rules to resolve ambiguity. But I think when the subject is “I”, the perception of 1 is dominant.
  19. stellari Senior Member

    Mandarin Chinese
    I agree it may not be actual contractions, but I feel it might be easier to explain if you see them as contractions (or maybe more precisely, ellipsis). Your other example could also be explained that way:
    我好恶心 <- 我感觉好恶心
    他好恶心 <- 他好令人恶心
  20. Ghabi

    Ghabi Moderator

    Hong Kong
    Exactly. 很 doesn't exist in Cantonese at all, thus M.很好吃=C.好好食 (or simply 好食 due to haplology).
    Erm, I really don't think we need to rationalize the two usages of 煩 this way. It's not rare for a word to have both an active and a passive meaning, and context and intonation usually suffice to disambiguate the two. For example, 怕人 can mean both "timid" (as in 小貓很怕人) and "frightening" (as in 他滿臉鮮血,樣子很怕人) depending on the context, in the latter case we can't say 怕人 is a contraction of 使人怕.
  21. xiaolijie

    xiaolijie MOD

    English (UK)
    说得好!"Context" is a very important factor in understanding Chinese grammar, and if grammarians pay more attention in this direction (instead of analyzing Chinese via formal features) they would save students from a huge amount of headache!
  22. stellari Senior Member

    Mandarin Chinese
    True. Actually in ancient Chinese, a great number of adjectives/nouns can be used as a verb, meaning 'to make ... adjective/noun'. I guess the two versions of 烦 are a legacy of this grammatical phenomenon. So I totally agree with you. I was merely trying to highlight this point by expanding the monosyllabic word 烦 by adding another character so that there will be definitely no confusion. Maybe I shouldn't have said those are 'contractions'. Anyway, your explanation is much simpler to understand.

    BTW, I would probably avoid 他的样子很怕人 in favour of 他的样子很可怕 or 他的样子很吓人.
  23. BODYholic Senior Member

    Chinese Cantonese
    It's definitely not wrong for "好" to be taken as "very" or "really" in your examples. And since no one has mentioned it, I would usually translate it as the adverb "so".

    好累 - so tired
    好可愛 - so cute
    他好恶心 - He's so disgusting
    好多东西 - so many things
    他好烦 - He's so annoying

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