8.5: Lesson 7 Grammar- Descriptive complements
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In this section, I will discuss how to use 得 (de) to help describe an action. It is one of the characters that often gets confused with 的 and 地, since they could be pronounced as a neutral tone "de." In Chinese, this usage of 得 (de) is called 描写性补语 (miáoxiě-xìng bǔyǔ) or 描述性补语 (miáoshù-xìng bǔyǔ).
Descriptive complements are used to describe the action of a verb. This would be done with an adverb in English.
Verb / Adj. + 得 + Descriptive complement
Nǐ shuō de hěn hǎo.
You speak very well.
Tā zuò dé mǎmǎhǔhǔ.
He did it poorly.
Tāmen wán de hěn kāixīn.
They had a lot of fun.
Tā de wénzhāng xiě de hái bùcuò.
She writes good essays.
Háizi men tīng de hěn rènzhēn.
The kids are listening very attentively.
Chinese complements are not an exact science. You may notice that the above uses of descriptive complements overlap a bit with degree complements. Yes, they do. The main difference is that descriptive complements can get way more... descriptive, whereas degree complements are much more concerned with degree. The overlap tends to happen when the complements are extremely simple.
[adapted from AllSet Learning Chinese Grammar Wiki, Creative Commons License BY-NC-SA 3.0]
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If you have any questions about this grammar point, please ask in the class forums!