Fun with Chinese Adverbs

You have probably never used the word ‘fun’ and ‘adverb’ in the same sentence, but that is most likely because you have not read hundreds and hundreds of pages of translated academic and political articles.

I have recently been doing just that, doing the English editing of translated academic and political resources. What it really involves is taking an article from “Chinglish” into English; from English that sounds like its been translated into something that (hopefully) sounds like it was written in English.

In the course of this work I have found myself chuckling at how the Chinese language uses adverbs. It is never enough to understand. One must ‘correctly understand.’

You don’t reduce something. You ‘maximally reduce’ it.


Herewith are some of my favorite adverb+verb combinations (so far):

  • discretionally inherit
  • comprehensively control
  • maximally avoid
  • constantly innovate
  • cautiously plan
  • constantly explore
  • spontaneously report (as opposed to spontaneously combust)
  • resolutely adhere
  • comprehensively implement
  • actively strengthen
  • earnestly invite
  • resolutely fight
  • comprehensively demonstrate
  • earnestly return

Of course, it’s a mix-and-match game. As far as I can tell, you can pretty much use any adverb with any verb.

Go ahead, give it a try.