City University of Hong Kong CLASS CLASS
Making Sense of Grammar
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asked Nov 19, 2020 in Questions about Chinese Grammar by Mickey (7,360 points) | 726 views

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Búdà不大 and bùtài不太 both mean ‘not very…’ and are frequently used in the structure of ‘不大/不太+Adjective’. When adjectives express the positive meanings, they are interchangeable, for example,

1)他不大高兴

Tā      búdà    gāoxìng

He    not very   happy

‘He is not very happy.’

2)他不太高兴

Tā       bùtài        gāoxìng

He    not very       happy

‘He is not very happy.’

From the example, we can see that the adjective is gāoxìng 高兴 happy, which express the positive meaning. However, when the adjective expresses the negative meaning, it can frequently be matched with bùtài不太, but is seldomly allowed to match with búdà不大, for example,

3) 不太笨

Bùtài    bèn

‘Not too stupid’

4)*不大    笨

Búdà   bèn
answered Nov 19, 2020 by Mickey (7,360 points)

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