I notice that stative verbs tend to connect with the subject and then the rest of the sentence proceeds with normal word order.


Why does 喜歡 precede the location-phrase 在圖書館? (why not 我們 在圖書館 喜歡讀書 )


Why does 希望 come before 將來?(why not 他 將來 希望當工程師 )

On the other hand, intensifiers are allowed to come before the stative verb:

她很希望 xyz

他真的不懂 xyz

Why is this so? What is different about intensifiers in relation to stative verbs?

2 Answers 2


First of all let me point out that in Chinese the term "stative verb" 状态动词 is commonly associated to what you call intensifier, on this website too, for example here.

In English though, stative verbs are verbs that describe a relatively unchanging state, so we can include your examples, as 喜欢,希望,etc.

As for your questions, this is how I interpret the whole thing:

Why does 喜歡 precede the location-phrase 在圖書館? (why not 我們 在圖書館 喜歡讀書 )

Because what you like in this sentence is the entire thing of reading in the library. If you invert the order, 我們 「在圖書館」 喜歡讀書 then you say that in the library, we like reading (i.e. when we are not in the library we don't like reading anymore).

Same as in the other example:


She hopes to be an engineer in the future (someday), and not, 將來希望當工程師 in the future, she will hope to be an engineer.

The state described by the stative verb applies to what follows. If you move complements before it, it doesn't apply to them anymore.

And finally:

On the other hand, intensifiers are allowed to come before the stative verb:

because they work as adverbs here, and modify the intensity of the described state:

我超级喜欢 I extremely like

我很喜欢 I like a lot (very)

我不太喜欢 I don't like too much (not very much)

我非常不喜欢 I extremely dislike

  • Just to clarify: 状态动词 "stative verbs" also refer to intensifiers like 真的,非常,挺,相當 ? Sorry about that Jun 27, 2020 at 15:27
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    @MuchAppreciated25 yes, in Chinese. It's just a naming convention, that you can find on this website, among others. In English your definition of stative verbs is correct. Examples: this, this. These are just the first results that pop up in Google if you search "chinese stative verb"
    – blackgreen
    Jun 27, 2020 at 15:30

Both  他將來希望當工程師 and  他希望将来當工程師 are idiomatic and mean the same thing.


Why does 喜歡 precede the location-phrase 在圖書館? (why not 我們 在圖書館 喜歡讀書 )

It's because the sentence is saying we like reading in the library, not reading per se.

我們 在圖書館 喜歡讀書 sounds (clumsy) like we like reading when we are in the library.

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    他將來希望當工程師 in English would be "He will hope to be an engineer" while 他希望将来當工程師 would be "He hopes he'll be an engineer." I think the latter sounds more natural. Do we really know what we'll hope for?
    – joehua
    Jun 27, 2020 at 14:33
  • @joehua Your interpretation sounds reasonable. However, that's not the native way. 他将来希望当工程师 also means "he hopes he'll be an engineer'". Both are natural sentences. I may not have a good reason to explain why off the top of my head. But indeed both can work.
    – dan
    Jun 27, 2020 at 18:15
  • @joehua There are other examples for this. 我现在就想去 VS 我想现在就去,I can't think of any differences between the two sentences.
    – dan
    Jun 27, 2020 at 18:19
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    Different emphasis: 我现在就想去 (right at this moment, I want to go ) ; 我想现在就去 (I want to go right away)
    – Tang Ho
    Jun 27, 2020 at 18:42
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    @TangHo You might argue from the grammar point of view for this. But semantically, they mean the same thing. This is one of the interesting tricks in Chinese language I think.
    – dan
    Jun 27, 2020 at 23:01

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