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Fin

Hen3 很 omissions in certain sentences.

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Fin

Hi, I have been learning Chinese for a few months now but have ran into issues with word 很 for linking nouns and adjectives. I have came across two sentences where 很 seems to have been omitted and I have no idea why. Sentences and explanations below: 

 

1)  这个服装市场很远, 但是价钱便宜。For this one should it not be 但是价钱便宜。My thinking behind this is that you are saying ”but the price is cheap" so 很 must be needed?

 

2) 如果长短合适的话,我就买。For this one should it not be 如果长短合适的话, 我就买。My thinking behind this is that you are saying "If the length is acceptable" so 很  must be needed?

 

Thanks in advanced for any help!

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Jim

You seem to have got off on the wrong foot altogether,  很 is an intensifier that sometimes drops that function to just fill in a space for prosodic reasons, as in the first clause of your example 1). You should almost always be thinking about what it's doing there at all, as it frequently doesn't really mean "very" as it's often translated, rather than thinking it's been left out - the length will be acceptable or not you'd think, though I suppose you could imagine a situation where it was "very" acceptable.

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anonymoose

As a non-native speaker (so I might be wrong), the way I would analyze this is that, as you probably know, when 很 is omitted, a comparison is implied.

 

In your first example, there prices are cheaper than other markets which are not so far away, so there is an implicit comparison.

 

In your second example, as this is a 如果 statement, there is an implied comparison between the length being 合适 and being not 合适, hence 很 again is not needed. Including 很 would not be incorrect, but in most situations would be unnecessary - what are the alternate situations that 如果 is referring to if it is not 很合适? 有一点合适?

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realmayo

OP: you might be thinking that there's no "is" linking the noun and adjective, and therefore 很 is doing the work of an "is". But this is not true: most Chinese adjectives are actually verbs that describe a state (and are often called "stative verbs" rather than "adjectives" for this reason.

 

So the "is" is already included in 远 ("is-far") and 合适 ("is-suitable").

And 很 is not doing that linking or "is" role at all.

 

I think I disagree with Jim because I don't think it's used just for prosodic reasons - though I'm happy to be shown to be wrong.

 

My understanding is that without a 很 (or similar modifier), the adjective that follows (I'd call it a stative verb, but most people like to say adjective) becomes 'absolute': the listener gets the sense that we're dealing with an either/or. I told you that one of the brothers is tall and the other short: this is the tall one.

 

So what 很 often does isn't to say he's really really tall, but just to make clear that we're not in that kind of binary world. He's tall(er than most). So 很 marks that we're in 'relative' territory, not absolute.

 

In (1) above, we're not in a situation where the speaker will only visit nearby shops and won't visit far away ones. So 很 makes clear it's relatively but not absolutely distant.

However in (2) we've got an either/or: "if" the length is suitable, then x, otherwise y.

 

 

Edit: posted at the same time but anonymoose much more succint than me!

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