In the sentence below the is word 晚 a verb or an adjective? In the Pleco and other dictionaries says that it is an adjective but I have not seen an adjective with 了 and a duration in any grammar book. Is there a 莱 before understood but not written? Is this a frequently used sentence or better 迟到一个半小时. Here there is no problem since 到 is a verb.

她叫我 十一 以前 到家, 但是我 晚了一个半小?

4 Answers 4


晚 in "我晚了一个半小时" is an adjective.

"我(是)晚了一个半小时" = "I (am) late for one and half hour"

The verb 'be' (是) is omitted in Chinese

The verb 'be' cannot be omitted in English. "I was late for one and half hour" cannot be reduced to "I late for one and half hour".

In "我去晚了一个半小时", '去' is a verb and '晚' is an adverb

  • Since when does 是 connect adjectives? Aug 8, 2019 at 9:41
  • 晚 = 遲 (late; delayed; belated ) is an adjective; 我晚 /遲了一小时 = I late for one hour; 我(是)晚/遲了一小时 = I (am) late for one hour. 是 (be) does act on adjectives, like "我是蠢" , where "是" can be omitted and the sentence becomes "我蠢". but the "am" in "I am foolish" cannot be omitted
    – Tang Ho
    Aug 8, 2019 at 9:57
  • Isn't this just a topic marker: 是…(的)? All sources I have ever read say that 是 only acts on nouns, and 很 etc. connect adjectives. They also say that 你很漂亮 = 你漂亮… Aug 8, 2019 at 10:11
  • It seems to me that describing this as stative verbs might be a better idea: en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_adjectives Aug 8, 2019 at 10:13
  • 1
    Now I think more of it, "是" does only acts on nouns, but it is often placed before [adjective + noun] for example: 我是人--> 我是蠢人 (蠢 is an adjective for 人)
    – Tang Ho
    Aug 8, 2019 at 10:25

It is an adjective. A standard Chinese sentence does not require a verb. Don't regard the Chinese grammar as the English grammar.


He is very tall.

The sentence is just 他 (he) 很 (very) 高 (tall) . There is no verb here.

Look up a Chinese grammar book. It always tells you that a predicate can be either a verb or an adjective, or even a noun.

Chinese grammar book


(1) I think 晚 is used as a verb here, meaning "to be late". In Chinese an adjective is often used as a verb, for example, 你瘦了 (You have become thinner).

Remark. In this case we often say the adjective is used as a verb or as the predicate.

(2) 了 doesn't go tegother with 一. Here 晚了 is the past form, meaning "was late"

(3) If you add 来 to this sentence: 我晚来了一个半小时, then 来 becomes the verb and 晚 becomes an adverb to describe 来. But I wouldn't recommend to use 来 here because

She told me to get home by 11, but I came home late by an hour and a half

sounds a little weird with "came". So we better change it to "got", which corresponds to 到 in Chinese, that is, 我晚到了一个半小时

(4) 迟到 also means "to be late", but usually for something formal, like a meeting, a lecture or a movie, or for work. One wouldn't use 迟到 for going home, even if it is grammatically correct. However, 晚到 can be used for this situation.

  • 晚 is an adjective here. Chinese language allows an adjective as the predicate, without a verb. e.g. 他很高 - he is very tall. 高 is the adjective, as the predicate. There is no verb here.
    – Victor
    Jun 9, 2020 at 16:48

¿Perhaps your preconceptions preclude your perspicacity?

Assume Western Grammar is always correct and may be applied to Chinese without exception.

Then you have a problem.

Assume Chinese cares nothing about Western Grammar and does what it wants:

but I have not seen an adjective with 了



她叫我 十一 以前 到家, 但是我 晚了一个半小时? (notice that Chinese doesn't change I and me? That is very naughty, according to Western Grammar!)
She told I 11 before to home, but I late 1 and 1/2 hour。
Ella dijo a me, que yo antes de las once debo estar en casa, pero llegaba una hora y media más tarde.

How you translate it, and what it says are 2 different things!

Chinese is a beautiful old language and culture. Don't try to make it fit into a Western mold, you will just become confused.

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