Why are there some adjectives after nouns, but when translated to english the adjective appears before the noun.

  • 1
    Come on, guys, there's no need to downvote this :)
    – dROOOze
    Jan 28, 2019 at 16:26
  • adjective 快乐 functions predicatively in 新年(元旦、节日、生日、新婚) 快乐, more examples of sentences with adjective as predicate: 屋里热,外面冷,个子高/矮,NP 快乐 may be thought of as "may NP be happy!"
    – user6065
    Jan 28, 2019 at 18:10

3 Answers 3


Noun is placed after adjective in both English and Chinese.

For example:

'Fast car' = '速度快的汽車'

'good person' = '好'

'lazy cat' = '懶'

'happy new year' is no exception, it means 快樂的新年. But it only apply when 'new year' is treated as the client noun for the adjetive.

When we say "happy new year" as a blessing or greeting to someone, we actually meant "(wish you) to be happy in the new year

"(一個) 快樂新年" = "(a) happy new year"

新年 is the client noun of the adjective 快樂


"(祝你)新年快樂" = "(wish you) being happy in the new year"

the omitted noun 'you' is the client noun of the adjective '快樂'

It is not the new year that is happy

It is you who are happy

[Noun + verb 'is'] is placed before the adjective in both English and Chinese.


the car is fast = 這很快

the person is good = 這很好

the cat is lazy = 這很懶

the new year is happy = 新的一年很開心

wish you are happy = 祝快樂

wish you are happy (in new year) = 祝(在新年)快樂

as a greeting, "新年快樂" means (祝你在)新年快樂


I agree with Tang Ho, but I'd like to also add my way of explaining, so that more than one way of explaining might make it easier to understand.

In English, there are attributive and predicative adjectives. Attributive adjectives modify a following noun, it is the noun's attributes. For example, fast car. Predicative adjectives appear after the noun, but needs a verb before it, for example,the car IS fast.

It is the same in Chinese. When we say in Chinese, 早上/下午/晚上好 (good morning/ afternoon/evening), the 'good' comes after the time of day because what you are really saying is "The (time of day) [is] good" (you would not add the term for 'is', 是, here). So when you say "新年快乐", you are really saying "the new year is/will be happy", ie, may you be happy in the new year. Note, when Tang Ho said

It is not the new year that is happy

It is you who are happy

That is true. But I can also say that the new year is happy, but not in the way you think. I said that when you say "新年快乐", you are really saying "the new year is happy". What I mean is, 'happy' is an adjective that describes it, not an emotion the new year feels, ie the new year is not alive and does not have feelings. Like, 'the atmosphere was happy' = a happy cheerful atmosphere, not 'the atmosphere was alive and felt very happy.

You can also say "祝你一个快乐新年" which literally means "Wish you a happy new year". Here you are bestowing another person a thing (a new year) and also specifying what kind of 'thing' it is (a happy one), and is an attributive adjective. You can also use this for good morning etc, "祝你一个早上". The key is to add the possessive article 的,to show that something possesses the adjective/attribute or direct object.


well, “新年快乐”是一个“名词+状语”的结构,其重点是后面的“快乐”,其表达的意思是祝福 (新年)快乐。 如果你说成“快乐新年”,那么,这是一个adj+noun的结构,是想说明这是 (一个)快乐的新年。 well, "新年快乐"is a "noun +adj"structure, the key point is "快乐", it express the bless of you would have a new year happily. if you say"快乐新年", then, it is a structure of "ajd+noun", it would express "a happy year".

ps,看到你们问的这些问题,感觉你们对中国的语法真的很讲究,就如我在学习英语一样。但是对于以中文为母语的人,好像都没有去思考过这些问题,自然而言就这么说了。 ps, when I saw the questions you asked, I feel that you are seriously in Chinese grammar, just like I study English. While as native speaker in China, we have little time to think of it, though we we were young, we took sometimes to study grammar, but few of us really take grammar seriously.

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