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In dictionaries 很 is translated as 'very' but I'm not sure this is correct.

If I want to say "I am happy" the mandarin is 我很高兴. The character 很 is used even though the english phrase shows no sign that I am very happy or extremely happy.

I have been told to say 我非常高兴 if I am feeling more happy than normal

So does the character 很 show any indication that I am 'very' happy?

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我很高兴, 我挺高兴,我真高兴, 我非常高兴 are commonly used.

我高兴 is valid too, but not that common as the sentences above. You could say 我今天高兴(I am happy today), 我高兴你能来 or 你能来我高兴(I am happy with your coming.)

我很高兴 and 我挺高兴 are interpreted as "I am quite happy."

我非常高兴 is "I am very happy."

我真高兴 is "I am really happy."

我高兴 is "I am happy," but people might use '我很高兴' to interpret 'I am happy' too because 我很高兴 sounds more natural from Chinese perspective.

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很 is often pronounced lightly, so it is actually without any real information. It seems to fill the role of a predicate marker (e.g. 'copula') with adjective phrases. However, if it's stressed, then it does mean 'very'. (Mandarin Chinese does have stress; however, it seems to get ignored in many language classes.)

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Both yes and no :) Speaking from my 3 semesters of Mandarin, we still do use it when to emphasize a degree of "very", but later on some stronger adverbs arrive, e.g. 非常 or 更. So, with the time 很 might become redundant in the translation from Chinese to other languages cause its degree of "very" is smaller comparing to the other adverbs.

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