I''m a Chinese learner for quite a while, I've been wondering why (是) shi4 is dropped in sentences like this:"我很好" Isn't there supposed to be a verb in every sentences? like 我(是)很好.

  • 1
    possible duplicate of Stative verbs in Chinese: only for adjectives?
    – NS.X.
    Apr 28, 2014 at 21:11
  • 1
    @NS.X. I wouldn't necessarily say that this question is a duplicate of that one. While the answer to that question helps to answer this one, these two questions are fundamentally different. This question asks why 是 is not needed; the other question asks what word in the sentence is playing the role of the verb and how does it behave.
    – Claw
    Apr 28, 2014 at 22:39
  • @Claw Agreed. Not a real dupe in question but there are major overlap in the supposed answers. I voted for closing for condensation but maybe I shouldn't.
    – NS.X.
    Apr 28, 2014 at 22:59
  • 1
    weird enough, here 很 plays the role of is (copula). 很 in this case rarely means very seriously.
    – Ma Ming
    May 1, 2014 at 19:57

4 Answers 4


Simply put, adjectives in Chinese can function as verbs.

More specifically, they can form predicates without the use of a copula verb such as 是. For this reason, adjectives in Chinese are sometimes considered to be a class of verbs called "stative verbs".

You can refer to the answers of this previous question for more details: Stative verbs in Chinese: only for adjectives?

  • Not sure if "Simply put" is applicable in the same sentence as "predicates", "copula verb", and "stative verbs" lol
    – Ming
    Apr 30, 2014 at 1:47
  • @Ming That's fair. :) I suppose I meant "simply" as "most concisely".
    – Claw
    Apr 30, 2014 at 2:15

Generally speaking, “是” means “is”. In English you can use "be"+adjective to mean "A subject whose property/attribute is of sth"

I'm well/better.

But in Chinese, “是” is usually means "to define a subject to be sth":So when we say "some subject" “是” "sth", this means "Some subject equals sth".

我是学生:I'm a student (meaning I'm working as a student). So “是” is usually used with a noun.

However, “是” can be also used to enhance a meaning (just like your example above)——this means some subject is REALLY sth, maybe according to the context, this is something with your mood.

我是很好!(Of course I'm fine, maybe someone is saying badly about you.)

他是很坏!(He's really very bad, agreeing with sb's saying)

  • 3
    So "是" is usually used with a noun :)
    – Ming
    Apr 28, 2014 at 6:09
  • @Ming:Yes, however we can use this to emphase something.
    – xqMogvKW
    Apr 28, 2014 at 8:03

是 is a contact verb here.
The grammar in example 我很好 is noun + adjective. just like subject + contact verb (ignored in Chinese) + predicative.

The word “我很好” means “I am all right”. “是”is a verb(“动词”)which is
equivalent to "is","am","are" in English. When most Chinese students
including me learn English at very start,they tend to translating
the sentence word by word,e.g.

I    am      fine
wo3  shi4  hen3 hao3
我   是     很   好

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