Are 太... 了 (tài... le) and 很(hěn) grammatically equivalent?

My feeling is that semantically 太... 了 (tài... le) is somehow "stronger" then 很(hěn), that is: 太... 了 (tài... le) seems "exceptionally, extremely", while 很(hěn) is just "very". Is it correct?

Summing up both questions with an example:

  1. may I say (apart of changes in meaning):

    • 我的狗很大 Wǒ de ɡǒu hěn dà
    • 我的狗太大了 Wǒ de ɡǒu tài dà le


  1. Is the meaning of the second sentence is somehow "stronger" ?
    • 我的狗很大 Wǒ de ɡǒu hěn dà -> my dog is very big)
    • 我的狗太大了 Wǒ de ɡǒu tài dà le -> my dog is so big! / my dog is too big!
  • 2
    If you have looked up 很 and 太 in dictionary, you wouldn't have to ask this question.
    – Tang Ho
    Commented Nov 4, 2016 at 12:16
  • 1
    太 is often recommended to use instead of 很 in the case of negative adjectives (or verbs) 很好,太坏;很高,太矮,verbs: 很喜欢,太麻烦
    – user6065
    Commented Nov 6, 2016 at 10:44

5 Answers 5


很 sometime may interchange with 太 . however, 很 mostly carry out and descriptive meaning. While 太 are mean to show something exaggerate

if you use 太.... 了, it will add extra expressive complaining tones.
For example :

# 很 versus 太
my dog is [very big](for the breed) 我的狗[个子*很*大] 
my dog is too big(for the house) 我的狗[个子*太*大]

# 太....  了
my dog is [just too big!] 我的狗[个子太大了!] or 我的狗[太大只了!] 

The word , carry a few meaning : larger OR greater OR older

When describe with living subject, you must put additional care , i.e. put an extra description. Thus :

高大  : tall
肥大  : Fat and tall
强大  :strong and powerful (more appropriate to use 强壮 for masculine) 
年纪大 :old

我的狗很大, 我的狗太大了 is a confusing term. Is it older? taller? Stronger?

我的狗很高大 -> my dog is tall
我的狗长大了 -> my dog grow up (,at last)

Instead of interpreting 我的狗太大了 as "stronger" than 我的狗很大, the former one has more of a negative tone in it. If I exaggerate the first phrase a little bit more, it will be my dog is way too big. It has nuances of a complaint as compared to the mere description of 我的狗很大


From my own point of view, 太...了 does convey a stronger feeling towards the thing you are describing than 很. You can consider 太 as meaning "very much" or "a lot", whereas 很 means "really".


In my understanding, 很(hěn) means "very" while 太... 了 (tài... le) means "over(ly)". So, the second is more stronger (over the limit).


"太" is roughly translated as "too", while "很" is "very". In terms of the emotional senses, "太" has some stronger personal feelings in it, while "很" is normally objective and neutral

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