This Word Will Make Your Chinese Sound Super!

Word of the week: chāo


Chinese people like to use “very” when they speak English. Food never tastes good or bad, it’s either “very delicious” or “very disgusting”. This is because the Chinese word hěn 很is usually translated as “very” even though this translation is not quite right.

hěn is a lot weaker than the English word “very” and as a rule of thumb you need to use hěn before any adjective. That’s why Chinese people all want their English to sound “very perfect”, which is “very impossible” if they use very so very often.

The English word “very” is perhaps better translated as fēi cháng 非常, which is also used a lot in spoken Chinese. So if something good it’s hén hǎo, if it’s very good it’s fēi cháng hǎo, and if it’s better than very good you can double the fēi cháng and say fēi cháng fēi cháng hǎo.

There is also another option, you can say chāo hǎo 超好, which is “super good”. chāo 超 just means super, and you can use it before any adjective to make it seem a bit more than very.

Zhōng guó cài chāo hǎo chī

Chinese food is super tasty

Usain Bolt pǎo de chāo kuài

Usain Bolt runs super fast