Jump to content
  • Sign Up

When 大 or 老 is already part of its name


Recommended Posts

I notice that Chinese sometimes uses words to fill out monosyllables and make them more easily distinguishable as stand alone words. I have been curious about some of the consequences of this and so have asked some illustrative question below about this behavior.

If 一只大象 can mean "an elephant" and 一头大蒜 can mean "a bulb (?) of garlic," how can one say "a big elephant" and "a big bulb of garlic"?

How does one say "old mouse" or "old tiger"? Do you simply repeat 老, or use a different expression?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"a big elephant" ~ 一隻(很)大的(大)象

"a big bulb of garlic" ~ 一顆(很)大的蒜頭

"a big university" ~ 一所/間(很)大的大學

"an old mouse" ~ 一隻老的老鼠/耗子

"an old tiger" ~ 一隻年老的老虎

"an old teacher" ~ 一位年長/年老的老師

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the replies. I think I get the hang of it. I suppose that one would similarly say 一件(很)大的大衣.

Now that I think about it, I guess English is not completely immune from this problem. If you have a big brother who is big, you would not want to describe him as a big big brother. You would have to reword the sentence, perhaps by talking about a big brother who really is big or who is huge.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and select your username and password later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Click here to reply. Select text to quote.

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...