I just learned 堪 on the following sentence:


I extracted the relevant part only but this sentence talks about 心醉.

The auxiliary verbs to express "may" that I have learned so far include 可能. I might miss something others, though.

So what is the difference between 堪 and these auxiliary verbs?

Also, is there any more auxiliary verbs that express "may" (or "might") in Mandarin? As far as I search, there is little or no words to express "may" in Mandarin, especially compared to will/would/can/could/must/ought in English (e.g. 要,需要,应该,该,会,将,能,可能,可以,必须,可以,etc).

  • 堪 not among the 8821 常用词语 in HSK (汉语水平考试)dictionary, users note that 堪 cannot be combined with verbs or nouns (作主语)as freely as e.g. 能、可以,e.g. using 堪 to translate "I can do that" seems laughable, bkrs:堪 to endure may can 1) 动 胜任、承受。 如:「难堪」、「足堪重任」、「不堪一击」、「情何以堪」。2) 副 (adverb!) 可以、能够。 如:「堪称大将」、「不堪设想」。 唐.杜秋娘.金缕衣诗:动 (可; 能) may; can: 不堪设想 cannot be imagined; dreadful to contemplate 堪称佳作 may be rated as a good piece of writing or a fine work of art 堪当重任 be capable of shouldering important tasks; can fill a position of great responsibility (能忍受) bear; endure:不堪回首 cannot bear to look ba
    – user6065
    Dec 3, 2017 at 18:30
  • @user6065 HSK dictionary has 不堪 (also in IME editor)丙(动)[偏正][义1](1)不能(多用于不好或不愉快的方面)(can't bear;can't stand);这种骂人话~入耳。(2)承受不了;忍受不了(can't endure):红队踢得太差了,简直~一击。(3)用在贬义词的后面,表示程度深(utterly;extremely):他的房间脏乱~。
    – user6065
    Dec 3, 2017 at 21:45

3 Answers 3


(1) endure; sustain; bear; stand

(2) may; can; capable of; fit for

'堪' in '对身体的危害堪比心脏病发作' is definition #(2)

'堪' usually combine with a single character verb like '称' or '作', as in '堪称'(may be called as/ fit to be called as) or '堪作' (may be/fit to be)

[堪 + single character verb] are more classical and literary terms

For two characters verbs like '作为' , it is more common to use '足以'(enough to), as in '足以作为'(capable of being/ enough to be ) instead of '堪作为'

('堪称为' is an exception, it is as common as '足以称为')

[足以 + two character verbs] are more modern and colloquial terms

  • What is the difference between 堪 and 可能? Also in this sentence 堪 does not take any verb but is it correct?
    – Blaszard
    Dec 3, 2017 at 17:19
  • '堪' means "enough to; capable of; fit for" while 可能 means "possible" ; On the other hand, '堪' and '可' are very similar, interchangeable in most cases, for example: both " 堪称为" and "可称为" mean " may/can be called"
    – Tang Ho
    Dec 3, 2017 at 19:48
  • In this case why is it not be 堪被称, even though it is in a passive form?
    – Blaszard
    Dec 5, 2017 at 13:01
  • 1
    堪 already indicate passive voice ( fit to be), The passive voice marker is not needed
    – Tang Ho
    Dec 5, 2017 at 16:06

is there any more auxiliary verbs that express "may" (or "might") in Mandarin?

They are 能,可以.

  • Thanks but I feel this should be better served in a comment...
    – Blaszard
    Dec 6, 2017 at 19:26
  • This is the augmentation of the other answers, since I saw the other answer failed to provide the answer for "is there any more auxiliary verbs that express "may" (or "might") in Mandarin?". Is there a rule that an answer must be wordy?
    – dan
    Dec 7, 2017 at 0:45

What is the difference between 'can' and 'may? 'may' basically stems from an old root meaning 'have the power to, be able to' which is pretty much the modern meaning of 'can', making them synonyms. The old form of 'can' originally meant 'know, know how to do something'. You already have '可能‘ in your sentence. A funny phonetic coincidence in your sentence is also '堪比’ and 'can be'.


1. can be compared to the harm caused by a heart attack.
2. may be compared to the harm caused by a heart attack.

Do you note any difference in meaning between 1. and 2.? I do not.

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