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The differences between “很” and “太”

Apr. 2, 2013

The correct answer is B.

Translation:

Zhèjiàn yīfu zěnmeyàng?
Kate:这件     衣服   怎么样?

What do you think about the overcoat?

Tài kě’ài le.
Jerry:可爱了。

It’s too cute.

Explanation:

This test aims to check your knowledge of the adverbs 很 (hěn) and 太 (tài). Both are adverbs of degree, which means they modify adjectives to change the degree or intensity. 很 (hěn) means “very.”

太 (tài) means either “extremely” or “too.” If you are describing something good, 太 (tài) means “extremely,” but if you are describing something bad, then 太 (tài) means “too.” So how do you know which to use: 很 (hěn) or 太 (tài)?

1. 很 (hěn) and 太 (tài) are both adverbs of degree, with 太 (tài) leaving a stronger impression of the two. Additionally, when using 太 (tài), you’re not necessarily talking about facts, but your opinion.

Examples:

(1)

Tā de zuǐ hěn dà!
a. 她 的  嘴  很  大!

Her mouth is very big!

Tā de zuǐ tài dà le!
b. 她 的  嘴 太 大 了!

Her mouth is too big!

In the above examples, a describes her mouth without any (or much) personal opinion, but b is someone’s opinion about her mouth.

(2)

Zhège zhǔyi hěn hǎo!
a. 这个    主意   很  好!

This is a very good idea!

Zhège zhǔyi tài hǎo le!
b. 这个   主意   太  好  了!

This is a brilliant idea!

“太好了 (tài hǎo le)” expresses obvious excitement, meaning “extremely good.”

2. Usually when 太 (tài) is used,the modal particle 了 (le) follows. “很 (Hěn),” on the other hand, is rarely used in this way.

Examples:

Zhège píngguǒ hěn dà!
这个       苹果      很 大!

This apple is very big!

Zhège píngguǒ tài dà le!
这个      苹果     太  大 了!

This apple is too big!

Now, let’s go back and take a look at the above conversation. 可爱 (kě’ài) is an adjective and can be modified by adverbs 太 (tài) and 很 (hěn). The reason that we choose “太 (tài)” as the correct answer is that there is a “了 (le)” at the end of the sentence.

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