I am having some difficulties understanding the differences in meaning between the following structures (the examples are from Line dictionary):

  1. Verb + Adj



    Zŏu kuài le tā huì lĕi.

    Walking quickly tires her.

  2. Adj + Verb



    Wŏmen kuài zŏu.

    Let's go!

  3. Verb + 得 + Adj



    Nĭ de biăo zŏudékuài,háishì zŏudémàn?

    Does your watch gain or lose?

  4. Adj + 地 + Verb



    Yīgè dăzá de hĕnkuài dì zŏu guòlái le.

    Very soon a cleaner marched over.

I know this topic has been asked partially (except structures 1. and 2.) in:

Difference in MEANING (NOT structure) between 得 vs 地

what is difference using of "地" and "得"

的-地-得, when do you use which?

  • Are you sure it is Verb + Adj? [走(v) + 快了(adv) | 我们(n) + 快(adv) + 走(verb) | 很快地(adv) +走过 (verb)] | 走(v) + 得(potential particle) + 快 (adv)]
    – Tang Ho
    Commented Aug 25, 2020 at 20:01
  • I don't understand your question. You already got the meanings of those sentences. You should know the difference in meaning from those English translations.
    – dan
    Commented Aug 25, 2020 at 23:40
  • @dan I just copied some examples from the dictionary but I don't completely understand the differences of the meanings. I expected an answer that would first explain in general the meaning of the structures and then link to these particular examples (or some others) to explain them.
    – Puco4
    Commented Aug 26, 2020 at 7:25
  • @TangHo I used "Adj" purely for terminology (I didn't know how to express the structures otherwise), even though they might have a different grammatical function there. An otherwise adjective working as the verb in a sentence can be referred as adjectival verb (maybe analogously we can use the term adjectival adverb for adverbs derived from adjectives).
    – Puco4
    Commented Aug 26, 2020 at 8:05

2 Answers 2


I will suggest my ideas (probably there are some mistakes, so please point them out). For each case I believe there can be several possibilities.

  1. Verb + Adj :

    • Adj is an adverb defining or restricting the meaning of the Verb. For example,


      Yīgèrén huì zǒu kuài hěnduō, dàn liǎng gè rén hǎoxiàng gèng yǒuqù.

      One person walks a lot faster, but two people seem to be more interesting.

      Here, 快很多 is an adverb that specifies a relevant characteristic of the verb to walk. The important idea is not to walk but to walk a lot faster.

    • The ... + Verb is the subject of the adjectival verb Adj. For example:


      Wǒmen chūqù hǎo.

      It would be good if we go out.

      Here, 我们出去 (we go out) is the subject of the adjectival verb 好 (is good).

    • The Adj is the direct object of the Verb. For example:


      Wǒ juédé hěn cánkuì.

      I feel very embarassed.

      Here, 很惭愧 (very embarassed) is the direct object of the verb 觉得 (to feel).

  2. Adj + Verb:

    • If the Adj is an adverb of time, it signals the time of the action. Such is the case of 快 which can also mean soon. For example:


      Tā kuài huíláile.

      He'll be back soon.

    • The Adj is actually a verb. For example:


      Wǒ měitiān dū nǔlì xuéxí.

      I study hard every day.

      努力 is a verb meaning to make a great effort. So here we have Verb + Verb and 学习 is the direct object of the verb 努力: to make a great effort studying.

    • The Adj is placed in the topic position but the underlying structure is Verb + Adj. For example:


      Zhè dào tí hěn nán jiě.

      This problem is difficult to solve.

      Here, 这道题很难 is the object + verb placed in the topic position. We can rearrange the sentence to its "natural" order:


      Jiě zhè dào tí hěn nán.

      It is difficult to solve this problem.

      We see that actually 解这道题 (to solve this problem) is the subject of the adjectival verb 很难 (very difficult).

  3. Verb + 得 + Adj: The adjective describes (instead of restricting) the manner or the result of the state of an action. For example:


    Tā zǒu dé hěn màn.

    He walks (in a manner) very slowly.


    Tā jiào de lèile.

    He taught so much (to the result) that he is tired.

  4. Adj + 地 + Verb: The Adj + 地 is an adverb that defines or restricts the manner in which the action is carried in a particular situation. Because of this, it can be used for commands. For example:


    Nǐ kuài kuài dì pǎo.

    Run quickly!


The thing about descriptive phrases is, you can almost always leave them out. They are useful but unnecessary for minimal communication. If you have a long, complicated sentence, try to remove all descriptive phrases, then it will be much easier to understand.

  1. 走快了她会累。-> 走了她会累。
    (If she) walks fast she gets tired. -> (If she) walks she gets tired.

You can gloss this as:

Walking fast makes her tired -> Walking makes her tired.

'Walking' is a gerund, a noun. 走 is then the Chinese equivalent of 'Walking' here.

  1. 我们快走。-> 我们走。

We're leaving soon. -> We're leaving.
'leaving' is a gerundive, an adjective, but you can't leave it out too or you will be left with: We're.
(Nice to know you exist, but not much information)

  1. 你的表走得快,还是走得慢? -> 你的表走得,还是走得? -> 你的表走,还是走?

(reductio ad absurdum, no information. You need the 得快、得慢 = how)

Does your watch go fast or go slow? -> Does your watch go or go? (fast and slow are the 'how' in 'Your watch goes how'?)

  1. 一个打杂的很快地走过来了。-> 一个打杂的走过来了。
    A worker quickly came over. -> A worker came over.

(All these '->', I think I'm back in PHP!)

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