In the sentence - 他读书很用功。 - why is there no 地, which should transform the 用功 from an adjective to an adverb?

I learned 地 changes an adjective to an adverb, so it should be something like:




(Not sure which order is correct, though...)

  • adverbs come before verbs, complements after verbs, therefore 很用功 is a 情态补语("实用现代汉语语法")also called 程度补语("外国人实用汉语语法",complement of degree), CCG says "complement of manner and consequential state, such complements may be joined to verb by 得,他读书得很用功 seems possible
    – user6065
    Dec 5, 2017 at 17:15
  • answers A"but you cannot say "他读书用功地"" and B"他读书很用功地 is more emphatic" seem to be contradicting each other (except for the added 很), in fact adding 很用功地 after verb 读书 apparently contrary to grammar seems to add 很用功地 as an afterthought, i.e. speakers add sth. at the end that they should have said earlier (which may not be uncommon in everyday language)
    – user6065
    Dec 6, 2017 at 4:16

5 Answers 5

  1. Many adverb do not require the adverb marker 地. 用功 is one of them

"他很用功读书" is the same as "他很用功地读书"

  1. When the adverb is placed after the verb, 地 is never used.

You can say "他用功地读书" or "他读书用功" but you cannot say "他读书用功地"

More example of adverb with and without 地

  • 用功读书 (study hard)- emphasize the action(verb) 读书

  • 用功地读书 (study hard)- emphasize the manner(adverb) 用功

  • 坚决反对 (firmly object) - emphasize the action (verb) 反对

  • 坚决地反对 (firmly object) - emphasize the manner(adverb)- 坚决

  • How can I know which adjectives require 地?
    – Blaszard
    Dec 6, 2017 at 11:57
  • Just edited but I’m not sure it is a typo or not, so rollbacked. But is 用功 adjective, isn’t it? At least in Pleco it is listed as adjective.
    – Blaszard
    Dec 6, 2017 at 12:00
  • 1
    To use 用功 as an adjective, we usually need to add an adjective marker like '的'- We say "用功的人" (hard working people) but not "用功人" ;
    – Tang Ho
    Dec 6, 2017 at 13:24


In this sentence, 用功 is actually used to describe 他, instead of the action 读书. The main sentence is 他很用功, where 读书 can be regarded as a subject clause, so you need an adjective. You can also say 他读书很用功的, but it is kinda informal.


As you said, 用功 is transformed from an adjective to an adverb, in this sentence, in order to modifier the verb.

I'm not familiar with how to analyze the grammar, if I'm wrong, feel free to point out.


他读书很用功 vs 他读书很用功地

The latter sentence is more emphatic (很用功地 ) than the former.


"他读书很用功地" is not correct, since "地" phrases rarely appears in the end of a sentence. We use "的" here to emphasize "用功".


In Chinese, we often add 地 to make adverb:

EX: 我用功地读书。 他努力地工作。 你勤勤恳恳地做事。

Structure: Subject + Adverb (which is composed by adjective + 地) + Verb

Now you may remove 地 and change the position of adverb:

EX: 我读书用功。 他工作努力。 你做事勤勤恳恳。 (Even though this sounds weird without 很, but this is legit。 ).

Structure: Subject + verb + adverb (without 地).

PS You may chain adverbs as you wish such as:

我很少用功地读书 (Chain 很少(地) with 用功地) 他工作非常努力 (Chain 非常 with 努力)

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