A friend told me all adjectives in Chinese are verbs. I am not so sure if it is right in general, especially when it comes to color. I ask him to give me examples and he said
1 天黑了
2 那个公共汽车很红
I think 1 is fine but 2 is not, but I don't how to explain these.
Can someone explain how you interpret the idea that all adjectives in Chinese are verbs and how you can use colors as verbs? thanks


2 Answers 2


It is not 'all adjectives in Chinese are verbs' but 'many adjectives in Chinese can also function as verbs' and most of the time you need a correct verb particle


马 - Black horse (O)

了 - The sky has darkened (O)

把墙了 - to darken the wall (X) - the correct verb is 涂黑(to paint black) or 弄黑 (to make black)

狗 - thin dog (O)

這狗了 - This dog has thinned down (O)

自己 - to thin oneself down (X) - the correct verb is 弄瘦 (to make thin)

人 - strong person (O)

這人了 - this man has grown strong (O)

這攻势 - strengthen this attack (X) - the correct verb is 加強 (to strengthen)

攻势 - the attack is weak (O)

攻势下來了 - the attack has weakened down (O)

他们的攻势 - to weaken their attack (X) - the correct verb is 減弱 (to weaken)

那个公共汽车很红 sounds right?

  • 红(red) here is still an adjective for the noun 公共汽车 (this bus is very red)

  • 红 (short for 火红 = popular and trendy) could function as a verb with an appropriate verb particle


那种公共汽车最近了起來 = Recently, that kind of bus has become popular and trendy


Grammatically, unlike in English, adjectives can be predicate in Chinese. The sentences your friend gave are correct.

Other examples: 她很漂亮。你人真好。etc. 漂亮 and 好 are adjectives.

Besides verbs and adjectives, there are also some other words or phrases can be predicate in Chinese. English learners should be aware of this difference while learning Chinese language.

  • Are you sure 那个公共汽车很红 sounds right?
    – wada
    Nov 26, 2020 at 6:08
  • 1
    @wada Yes, just like 那苹果很红, 她的皮肤很白,etc.
    – dan
    Nov 26, 2020 at 6:24
  • I don't think 那个公共汽车很红 semantically make sense, although it is allowed structurally. If I do a google search, 天黑了, 那苹果很红, 她的皮肤很白 give results, but this particular page is the only result by google for 那个公共汽车很红. As others have mentioned, 红 also means popular
    – wada
    Nov 26, 2020 at 7:35
  • @wada 那个公共汽车很红 makes sense, no matter 红 means red or popular. It can mean either in that particular sentence.
    – dan
    Nov 26, 2020 at 8:04

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