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When 到 comes after an adjective like 他白到耀眼, is the 到 a verb or a preposition? I know it means to the extent of.

3 Answers 3

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到 after an adjective is a degree particle that indicates "to what degree the adjective reaches"

Example:

[adjective] [degree] --> [白] [耀眼]

[adjective] [to the point of] [degree] --> [白] [到] [耀眼]

白[到]耀眼 = white [to the point of] dazzling

到 after a verb is a degree/result particle that indicates "to what degree the verb reaches" or "what resulted from the action"

Example:

  • [verb] [to the point of] [degee]--> [打] [到] [殘廢] ("to the degree of 殘廢" indicates the severity of the beating is higher than causing pain, but not to the point of causing death)

  • [verb][result in][result]--> [打] [到] [殘廢]("result in 殘廢" indicates the result of the beating)

打死 = verb + result complement (打 is the verb, 死 is the result complement)

打殘 = verb + result complement (打 is the verb, 殘 is the result complement)

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到.... I know it means to the extent of.

Yes, you are almost there. My interpretation is:

他白耀眼(的程度) - His whiteness (has reached the extent of) dazzling the eyes.

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他白到耀眼 = 他白耀眼的程度

什么程度 is a popular structure (idiomatic usage or fixed collocation) in Chinese, which means to the degree of or to the extent of. Sometimes people omit the last part 的程度.

In this structure, is a preposition for the noun 程度, but the adjective 耀眼的 goes before the noun in Chinese.

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