(#34) Many / 多


Let’s learn a simple adjective today. To say ‘many’ or ‘a lot’, you say 多 duo1 in Chinese. But usually it is used together with 很 hen3 to become 很多 hen3 duo1. Like I mentioned previously, the character 很 is a modifier that adds some intensity in meaning to the word it modifies. In this case, even if you have no intention to say ‘very-many’, or to exaggerate that there is a lot, in Chinese you still have to say 很多.

我买了很多苹果 wo3 mai3 le4 hen3 duo1 ping2 guo3 I bought many apples
花了很多hua1 le4 hen3 duo1 qian2 Spent a lot of money

Look at how 很多 can be used to express ‘many’ and ‘a lot’. But note that it can be used on tangible things and intangible things, but not verbs.

我很喜欢你 wo3 hen3 xi3 huan1 ni3 I like you a lot

我走了很多wo3 zou3 le4 hen3 duo1 lu4 I walked a lot (in English it is omitted, but in Chinese it is directly translated as ‘I walked a lot of roads’. ‘A lot’ that is used here is on the ‘roads’, not on the ‘walked’, saw that?)

A few more examples:

很多朋友 hen3 duo1 peng2 you3 many friends
很多巧克力 hen3 duo1 qiao3 ke4 li4 a lot of chocolates
很多想法 hen3 duo1 xiang3 fa2 a lot of ideas, thoughts
很多意见 hen3 duo1 yi4 jian4 a lot of opinions

If you use it with 了le4, it forms 多了 duo1 le4, and you can use it as a comparison.

多了一个人 duo1 le4 yi4 ge4 ren2 literally it means ‘more-d one person’, converting the adjective into a verb. But there is more unsaid meaning to it. It also says that it used to be one person lesser.

Scenario: a bachelor who had always stayed alone got married, he is not used to the additional person, so over drinks he may say to his friend, 家里多了一个人 jia1 li3 duo2 le4 yi4 ge4 ren2 ‘the house is more-d by one person’ but what he really means is 空间少了一半 kong1 jian1 shao3 le4 yi4 ban4 ‘the space is less-ed by half’

The meaning to the word 多了 may not always be bad, but sometimes it really takes the meaning of saying the additional is not really good.

Use it carefully ya?

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