I know that adjectives like old, new, good don't need 是. For example, we say 都很贵:Everything is expensive. We don't say 都是贵. On the other hand, I know that there are some words like colours, materials, gender and etc which are called "distinguishing words". These words are used with the 是...的 pattern. For example, 是红色的:It is red.

But as far as I know, the word "新:new" is not a distinguishing word like colours, materials or gender. So is this sentence grammatically correct? 老师的书是新的

3 Answers 3





All three of these are grammatically correct and equivalent in meaning (though the second is always preferred over the first and the third has an air of emphasis)

In a sentence such as "这很新", 这 is a noun, 新 is a verb (roughly meaning "to be new") and 很 is an adverb.

In "这是新的" 这 is still a noun while 新的 is also a noun (roughly meaning "that which is new"). If you want to understand why 新 is a verb and 新的 is a noun then I suggest you look up the term "nominalization".

In this way, 这很新 loosely translates to "this [is in the state of being new]" while 这是新的 loosely translates to "this is ([that which] is in the state of being new)"

As an added note, it is by this same grammar that we arrive at structures such as "高的人". 高 is a verb meaning "to be tall" while 高的 is a noun meaning "that which is tall". In the same way that mustard + stain = mustard stain, [that which is tall] + person = a person that is tall.

Words of this kind are referred to as "noun adjuncts": enter image description here

So 高的 is not an adjective, it is a noun functioning as a noun adjunct


My greatest pet peeve in life is being "corrected" when I was actually right in the first place. If you find fault with what I outlined here its because your understanding was superficial in the first place.

enter image description here

Directly from the Wikipedia page on Chinese adjectives. Chinese adjectives are not adjectives, they are verbs. They are often referred to as stative verbs or attributive verbs. Even calling them adjectives is an attempt to project one's own Euro-centric understanding of language and grammar onto the Chinese language. Parts of speech do not exist in a 1:1 ratio between languages.

enter image description here

Directly from the wikipedia page on nominalization (which I had already directed people towards earlier). As I said, if you have any opinions in opposition of these two concepts it is because your own understanding is superficial.

Even if you ignore these facts and compare the understanding I'm affording you here objectively against the "conventional" dogmatic approach typically being taught to English learners (the approach perpetuating the idea of literal adjectives in Mandarin) essentially you're making a tradeoff between an actual, intuitive understanding of the underlying grammar vs the small amount of comfort afforded to you by being able to use the term that you're already familiar with (adjective).

So you can either continue falsely identifying these words as adjectives and having to constantly deal with the fact that they don't behave as adjectives do in English, or you can accept that they aren't adjectives but instead a set of verbs that convey meanings that are akin to adjectives.

Edit 2:

It's a curious thing that you can see the term 形容词 suddenly burst onto the scene in the 1930s:

enter image description here

Now I'm no history buff, maybe someone else can tell me what was the nature of Chinese-European relations at that time

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    Hi, in the sentence 这很新, 新 is an adjective, and the structure is called Adjectival Predicate Sentence (形容词谓语句). In the sentence 这是新的, 新 is still an adjective, and the structure used is the 是…的 structure. Commented Sep 14, 2021 at 20:21
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    @GiuseppeRomanazzi see edit Commented Sep 15, 2021 at 3:38
  • I'm not referring to English adjectives or English verbs. Chinese grammar is different, as you correctly said. A Chinese 形容词 does not become 动词 only because you need to translate it as a verb in English. It's difficult to avoid the common mistake of explaining Chinese grammar in English terms. And when you do, as some linguists do preferring to use the terms static or stative verb to describe 形容词, the chance of being misunderstood is high. Commented Sep 15, 2021 at 9:42
  • BTW, both Wikipedia citations are correct. It's just a matter of misunderstanding and wrong application. To avoid that, I'd suggest to refer to authoritative sources in Chinese, as I do. For example, I would start from a Chinese monolingual dictionary. Commented Sep 15, 2021 at 9:46
  • @GiuseppeRomanazzi Your "authoritative sources" are the ones that invented the term 形容词 in the first place! The term 形容词 was invented by Europeans while trying to define these structures, In the very same way that 他 was split into 他 and 她 due to western influence. You're using the fact that "authorities" use 形容词 and adjective interchangeably as evidence of these words actually being adjectives when the term itself was coined in an attempt to project their own European concept of adjectives into the Chinese language. Not to mention, "appeal to authority" is literally a logical fallacy. Commented Sep 15, 2021 at 12:57

adjectives like old, new, good don't need 是

I would not put it that way. I would say that sentences without a verb are very common in Chinese. In this case, the structure is called 形容词谓语句 (adjectival predicate sentence), that is a sentence with an adjective as the main element of its predicate.


你的房间: subject
很大: predicate

In an affirmative sentence, the adjectival predicate is usually preceded by 很, which is a weakened adverb here without much significance of an adverb of degree. Without 很, comparison or contrast is often implied.


你的房间大 (compared to, for example, 我的房间小).

These words are used with the 是...的 pattern

Nouns, verbs, adjectives, and phrases can all be used with the 是...的 pattern.

So is this sentence grammatically correct? 老师的书是新的

Yes, it is. The structure is:

主语 + + 形容词 +

This structure is used to categorize (表示归类).


Yes,it’s right,if we want to say the book is new.we will say這本書是新的

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