In the following sentence:

在我的心目中,一个好的作家是长生不死的,他的肉体当然也和常人一样,迟早要化为泥土,但他的精神却会因为他的作品的流传而永垂不朽。在今天这种人人都想致富的社会里,说这样的话显然是不合时宜 —————— 因为比读书有趣味的事情实在太多了。

Looking at the Pleco, I found the following:

[pronounced with stress, indicating certainty]

Is this usage of 是 to indicate certainty of the sentence, indicating it is certain that "there are more interesting things than reading"?

Or is it another usage of 是, and in that case what the 是 works for in the sentence?

  • bkrs:是V adv. certainly; for sure 天气是热。 It sure is hot, searching iciba with 是太。。。了 yields ...因为他们实在是太不一样了,实在是太不合时宜了, 你认为一百万是不是太多了,我真是太兴奋啦
    – user6065
    May 20, 2018 at 20:39

4 Answers 4


I think your analysis is correct. The interpretation from Pleco is fit for the context:

[pronounced with stress, indicating certainty]

If you remove 实在, that sentence 因为比读书有趣味的事情是太多了doesn't sound natural.

I somehow agree that 实在是 can be used a set for emphasizing the certainty and as a whole, its English equivalent could be indeed, really or truly. For example, 我实在是累了: I'm truly tired. 我实在是受不了: I indeed can't stand it.

  • Thanks and do native speakers usually use 我实在是累了? Or is it very rare but still used occassionally?
    – Blaszard
    May 21, 2018 at 18:24
  • @Blaszard yes, we do when we try to stress the certainty. It's common.
    – dan
    May 21, 2018 at 22:27

Actually, I think 实在是 hangs together. Your 是 I would interpret as 'those are'.

1因为 2比 3读书 4有趣味的事情 5实在 6是 7太多了。
1because 2compared to 3read-books 4have-fun-things 5really 6those are 7very many

You could rewrite this:

因为有很多事情实在是比读书有趣多了。or 因为有很多事情比读书有趣多了。

To my mind,
a good author is immortal,
his body, of course, is the same as normal people's,
sooner or later, it will become dust,
but his spirit, because his works are circulated, will not be forgotten and will be immortal.
In today's world full of people seeking only wealth,
saying such words is evidently unfashionable,
because compared to reading books there are many other things which are more fun.

  • You can omit 是 in "因为比读书有趣味的事情实在是太多了" and write "因为比读书有趣味的事情实在太多了" so, "实在是" is not a set term, so are "实在非常XX" ; "实在很XX". ("实在" functions as adverb)
    – Tang Ho
    May 20, 2018 at 23:42


[因为] [比读书有趣味的事情] [实在] [是] [太多了]。

[because] [things that are more interesting than reading] [really] [is] [too many]。

  • “Things than are more interesting than reading” is the subject

  • “是” (is) is the verb

You cannot omit the “is” in the English sentence, But you can omit the”是” in the Chinese one. (It is implied)

  • Thanks but then why does the sentence bother to use 是? If it is unnecessary, it would be better to omit it, wouldn't it? Actually in almost all cases, it is omitted, I think.
    – Blaszard
    May 21, 2018 at 18:22
  • @Blaszard "[因为] [比读书有趣味的事情] [实在太多了]" sounds perfectly fine. - When omitting '是' doesn't change the meaning of the sentence or make it grammatically incorrect, it is better to omit.
    – Tang Ho
    May 21, 2018 at 18:43
  • Then why is it omitted in this sentence? I feel then what @dan said is correct, that it exists for emphasis.
    – Blaszard
    May 22, 2018 at 14:09

Let us drop all the extra information, the sentence will be:

事情实在是太多了 √

事情实在太多了 √

事情太多了 X

事情太多了 √

Now we know 是 cann't be used unless being attached to 实在, I don't know Chinese grammar(though I am a native Chinese speaker), I don't think it is a verb. What verb can not be used standalone?

Besides, the grammar of the sentence also looks weird, it does not follow SVO or SVP

But it reminds me a Japanese grammar--topic particle

象の鼻は長い means (speaking of) the elephant, its nose is long, は is a topic particle.

I would apply the same logic to Chinese, 事情 is topic, 太多了 is a description. Since Chinese is not a topic-prominent language. We can not use 是 standalone, these particles not necessary also. But if I add a modifier(实在), I can add an additional particle which acts like a topic particle.

This is not Chinese grammar.
This is not Chinese grammar.
This is not Chinese grammar.
3 times for important things.

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