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Top 10 Most Common Chinese mistakes made by English Speakers: #7


Hey there, Yangyang here to help you avoid some common Chinese mistakes!

This is the fourth in a series of posts on the most common mistakes English speakers make when speaking Chinese.

In my years of teaching Chinese, I have come to notice that English speakers tend to make similar mistakes over and over again. Today, I am going to tell you the most common mistake #7.

The goal here is to become aware of these mistakes to help you avoid making them in the first place! 

Mistake #8: Forgetting to insert  "de ()" in between adjectives and nouns

In English, you can use the same word "pretty" for both "she's pretty" and "she's a pretty girl" and nothing needs to change for the word "pretty".

But in Chinese, to use an adjective that contains more than one character (syllable) to describe a noun, you have to insert "de (的)" in between the adjective and the noun.

Why? I don't know. Just memorize this rule! :) 


She’s pretty.
tā hěn piào lianɡ。 


Pretty girl
piào liàng de nǚ hái 

This movie is interesting.
zhè ɡe diàn yǐnɡ hěn yǒu yì si。 
这个电影很有意思。/ 這個電影很有意思。

Interesting movie
yǒu yì si de diàn yǐnɡ 
有意思电影 / 有意思電影

This cat is cute.
zhè zhī māo hěn kě ài。 
这只猫很可爱。/ 這隻貓很可愛。

Cute cat
kě ài de māo 
可爱猫 / 可愛貓 

However, for adjectives that are only one syllable, you don't need to add "de (的)".


Male student
nán xué shēnɡ 
男学生 / 男學生

Hot soup
rè tānɡ 
热汤 / 熱湯

Small house
xiǎo fánɡ zi 

Good person
hǎo rén 

I hope these examples were helpful and you will be able to premeditate this type of mistake in the future!

We have a lesson in our Beginner Conversational Course that delves into this topic more deeply, take a look: