Mandarin is a complete MESS regarding word classes. I can't think of an example right now, but I'm completely sure there are some words that reach the point of being a noun, adjective, verb and adverb depending on how they are used on a sentence.

But sometimes I think Chinese lexicologists and learning books makers just make a random draw of what word class they're going to put there and that's it.

So here's the question: What are the criteria used on dictionaries and learning materials to decide word classes?


  • 1
    Maybe this is an example: 同意 (agree): noun 有没有同意 (do we have agreement?); verb 他同意了 (he agreed); adverb 我同意地说 (I speak agreeably); adjective 同意的候选 (agreed candidate).
    – Becky 李蓓
    Commented Nov 7, 2019 at 2:44
  • Yeah, now look at the dictionary: 同意【动】, and that's all. Ridiculous. Commented Nov 7, 2019 at 14:46

1 Answer 1


Before 2004, there's no word classes labels in Chinese dictionary. In 2004, 《现代汉语规范词典》add in this label, and in 2005,《现代汉语词典》add in this label. But it really confused Chinese people because the conception of word classes comes from English, Chinese language do not have a strict gamma system from the start. You can refer to this Zhihu post for more detailed information: Zhihu Post (In Chinese)

  • The issue the guy is asking there is the same I have: dictionaries put 容易 as an adjective and that's it. But we have cases of 容易不是好事情 (noun) and 容易破碎 (adverb). I think it's really naive not to mention that 容易 can be all these word classes. And it makes Chinese a language much hard to learn for non-native speakers, because we can never know when a word can be used as class A, B or C. If we could, everybody would be learning Chinese a lot faster. Chinese language is so 外国 unfriendly. Commented Nov 7, 2019 at 14:40

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