City University of Hong Kong CLASS CLASS
Making Sense of Grammar
+1 vote

If the degree adverb HEN (很) can be used to modify adjectives, why can't we say *很紅色?

asked Mar 29, 2018 in Questions about Chinese Grammar by admin (23,690 points)
edited Apr 26, 2018 by admin

1 Answer

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There are semantic constraints for the use of adverbs. hěn (很) is a degree adverb, which is semantically compatible only with degree-scalar attributes:

hěn (很)+scalar adjectives → 很漂亮 (very pretty)

hěn (很)+evaluative verbs → 很喜歡 (like it very much)

Therefore, *很紅色 is ungrammatical. But we can say 他很紅 "He (an actor or singer) is quite popular."

answered Mar 29, 2018 by admin (23,690 points)
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