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Level 2 Lesson 25.1 – Her Hair Is Black

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Colors in Chinese | Reduplication of Adjectives

In today's video lesson we’ll learn how to ask and describe colors in Chinese. We'll also learn about the structure Reduplication of Adjectives and learn more about Topic-Comment Sentences in Chinese.

  • Colors in Chinese: White, Red and Black
  • Reduplication of Adjectives
  • Topic-Comment Sentences in Chinese (II) 主题评论句 (II). See also (I)

VOCABULARY


GRAMMAR


Grammar 1: Colors in Chinese · HSK 2

In today's lesson we'll start with three basic colors in Chinese: white, red and black. Each color has an adjective version and a noun version:

Adj. hóng
bái
hēi
of the color red of the color white of the color black
Noun hóngsè
红色
báisè
白色
hēisè
黑色
the color red the color white the color black

 

There are situations where we can use both the adjective or the noun version, while there are also situations where we can only say the one-character adjective words, or only the two-character noun words.

(1) If we’re saying phrases like red clothes, black hair, white car, meaning that the colors are used as the Attributives, we can use both the one-character Adjective version and the two-character Noun version.

For example,

  • hóng yīfu / hóngsè de yīfu
    红衣服 / 红色的衣服
    red clothes
  • bái xiàofú / báisè de xiàofú
    白校服 / 白色的校服
    white school uniform
  • hēi tóufa / hēisè de tóufa
    黑头发 / 黑色的头发
    black hair / black hair

 

(2) If we want to describe and identify the color of something, we need to follow this structure:

Something + 是 + [Some Color] + 

And here for "some color" we can use both the one-character Adjective version and also the two-color character noun version. For example,

  • tā de yǎnjing shì hēisè de
    她的眼睛是黑色的。
    Her eyes are (something that are of) black color.
  • tā de yǎnjing shì hēi de
    她的眼睛是黑的。
    Her eyes are (something that are of the color) black.

 

  • zhè ge zúqiú shì báisè de
    这个足球是白色的。
    This soccer ball is (something that is of) white color.
  • zhè ge zúqiú shì bái de
    这个足球是白的。
    This soccer ball is (something that is of the color) white.

And to ask questions, we can say:

  • nǐ de zìxíngchē shì shénme yánsè de
    你的自行车是什么颜色的?
    Your bicycle is what color?
  • nà tiáo chuán shì shénme yánsè de
    那条船是什么颜色的?
    That "tiao" (of) boat is what color?

 

(3) When the color is used as the Subject or Object of the sentence, we usually go with the noun, two-character version. For example,

  • hóngsè zhēnde hěn hǎokàn
    红色真的很好看。
    (The) Red color (is) really good-looking.
  • wǒ zuì bù xǐhuan báisè
    我最不喜欢白色。
    I (do) not like (the) white color (the) most.

 

(4) When the color is used as the Predicate of the sentence to describe something, we usually go with the adjective, one-character version.

  • háizi de liǎn hóng le
    孩子的脸红了。
    (The) kid's face (became) red.
  • wàimiàn tiān zhēn hēi
    外面天真黑。
    Outside (the) sky (is) really black(/dark).

(5) When it’s already a set word, where the color is part of the word itself, instead of an attribute to modify it, we usually just use the one-character adjective version. For example,

  • bái tóufa
    白头发
    white(/gray) hair
  • hēimǐ
    黑米
    black rice
  • hóngchá
    红茶
    red(/black) tea
  • hóngduì
    红队
    red team

 

Grammar 2: Reduplication of Adjectives in Chinese · HSK 2

We have learned Reduplication of Verbs before, Adjectives can also be reduplicated. Reduplication of Adjectives are usually expressing a positive attitude on the speaker’s side, it’s usually approving or appreciative. For example,

One-character Adjective

A

Reduplication of Adjective

AA

hóng

red
hóng hóng
红红
(approving & appreciative) red
cháng

long
cháng cháng
长长
(approving & appreciative) long
gāo

tall
gāo gāo
高高
(approving & appreciative) tall

 

Two-character Adjective

AB

Reduplication of Adjective

AABB

piàoliang
漂亮
beautiful
piàopiao liàngliàng
漂漂亮亮
(approving & appreciative) beautiful
jiànkāng
健康
healthy
jiàn jian kāngkāng
健健康康
(approving & appreciative) healthy
kuàilè
快乐
happy
kuài kuai lèlè
快快乐乐
(approving & appreciative) happy

Grammar 3: Topic-Comment Sentences in Chinese (II) · HSK 2

We have learned Topic-Comment Sentences in Chinese  before. In Chinese when we want to describe a person's look, we usually put what we want to describe at the beginning of the sentence, as the Topic of the sentence, and then make the comment. For example,

 

TOPIC COMMENT
māma de tóufa
妈妈的头发
mom's hair
chángcháng de
长长的
(is) long
háizi de liǎn
孩子的脸
kid's face
hěn xiǎo
很小
(is) very small

 

And while the following sentences are grammatically correct in Chinese, native speakers usually don't say them:

  • Māma yǒu chángcháng de tóufa.
    *妈妈有长长的头发。
    Mom has long-long hair.
  • Háizi yǒu hěn xiǎo de liǎn.
    *孩子有很小的脸。
    (The) kid has very small face.
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