Chinese Grammar: The different uses of 可
If one day you guys go to Northern China, you may often hear people talking use this word: 可. Don’t look down upon this tiny word, it is used quite often and can make your speech quite lively! Let’s take a look at what it means.
可 - an adverb that likes to put the spotlight on things
可 is an emphatic adverb, that is used as a modifier. In most situations, you'll find 可 used as a transitional word or a particle use to put emphasis on a situation or to stress a statement. You’ll also run into it in sentence patterns. Mostly used informally and in spoken speech, it's a word you'll want to use when the reality differs from what you expected, and you want to underline that. As it means different things with different words, let's see how 可 behaves with each type of word.
Using 可 with an adjective
When used with an adjective, 可 can intensify the adjective, to stress the tone of the speaker and to express the degree of something. In this situation, it’s similar in meaning to 很 / 非常 very or 真 really.
可 + adjective
Using 可 with a verb
可 + Verb
Sentence structures with 可
可 can also be used in the pattern “可 ... 的” to show that something is worth doing. You can also translate it in “...can/could (be)...". Let’s look at some examples so as to give you a better idea of how this pattern works.
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