Grammar Lesson 13:

Stative Verbs

Stative Verbs (often abbreviated as S.V.) are special verbs which describe an unchanging state.

Examples of Stative Verbs:

忙 (mang2) = busy
高 (gao1) = tall
大 (da4) = large

Stative verbs are often translated into English as adjectives but function as verbs in Chinese sentences. "To be" or "is" is already part of these words. In other words 是 (shi4) (meaning "is") is not used with stative verbs.

Therefore "He is tall" can't be literally translated as "他是高 (ta1 shi4 gao1)", instead you would say "他很高 (ta1 hen3 gao1)", which literally means "He very tall". 很 (hen3) means "very" but in this case it doesn't necessarily mean he is very tall, just that he is tall. The function of 很 (hen3) in this case is mainly to join the other two words.

Other words to describe Chinese adjectives are

好 (hao3) = very
真 (zhen1) = really
非常 (fei1 chang2) = extremely

她很漂亮 = She is beautiful.
她好漂亮 = She is very beautiful.
她真漂亮 = She is really beautiful.
她非常漂亮 = She is extremely beautiful.

You could not say "她是漂亮" as 漂亮 (piao4 liang4) is a stative verb.

In Chinese stative verbs are called "状态动词" / "狀態動詞".

狀態 / 状态 (zhuang4 tai4) = state, mode, condition
動詞 / 动词 (dong4 ci2) = verb