Chinese Compound Words: Chinese Words Are Easy, But Maybe We Are BIASED

7 types of compound words - Biased

Word Structure: “Biased” 偏正式

This is part 8 of an 8-part series exploring all 7 types of Chinese compound words. Click below for the other parts:

Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3 – Part 4 – Part 5 – Part 6 – Part 7 – Part 8

Biased 偏正式 (piān zhèngshì) Chinese Compound Words

The second morpheme in a “Biased” word is the more important of the two. The first morpheme is merely describing the second morpheme. There are three types:

The Characteristic of Nouns

Chinese Compound Words: Nouns
工人 gōngrén凡人 fánrén文人 wénrén
富人 fùrén外人 wàirén土人 tǔrén
穷人 qióngrén名人 míngrén黑人 hēirén
女人 nǚrén外国人 wàiguórén白人 báirén
男人 nánrén大人 dàrén 死人 sǐrén

All of these are people 人 (rén). The first morpheme describes what characteristic each one means.

工人 (gōngrén) is a worker (worker person). 女人 (nǚrén) is a woman (woman person). 富人 (fù rén) is a rich person, etc.

工具 gōngjù 刀具 dāojù玩具 wánjù

具 means “tool.” 工具 (work tool) is a general term for all tools. The characters 刀具 (knife tool) is a knife that is specifically used as a tool, and 玩具 (play tool) is a toy for children. All are “tools” (the 2nd morpheme), and the first morpheme describes the characteristic of the tool. This makes them Chinese compound words because their meaning is made up of two morphemes.

中文 zhōngwén日文 rìwén英文 yīngwén

So, the Chinese Character 文 (wén) refers to the language, and which language it is referring to is explained in the first morpheme. Chinese (中 zhōng), Japanese (日 hi) & English (英 yīng)

Chinese Compound Words With 上 shàng – on, upon

早上 zǎoshàngmorning

山上 shānshàngon the mountain, on a mountain

Chinese Compound Words With 光 guāng- ray or beam of light

月光 yuèguāngmoonlight

日光 rìguāngsunlight

灯光 dēngguānglamplight

Chinese Compound Words With 水 shuǐ- water or liquid

口水 kóushuǐsaliva

白水 báishuǐclear water

自来水 zìláishuǐtap water

泉水 quánshuǐspring water

江水 jiāngshuǐriver water

河水 héshuǐriver water

湖水 húshuǐlake water

墨水 mòshuǐink

源 yuán- source, the source

来源 láiyuánsource (of something)

光源 guāngyuánlight source

水源 shuǐyuánwater source

河源 héyuánriver source

Chinese Compound Words With 果 guǒ – fruit

水果 shuíguǒfruit (in general)

苹果 píngguǒapple

芒果 mángguǒmango

国 guó- country

中国 zhōngguóChina

美国 měiguóAmerica

英国 yīngguóEngland

外国 wàiguóforeign countries (outside+country)

内 nèi- within/in & 外 wài- outside, out of

国内 guónèidomestic (country+inside)

室内 shìnèiindoors (room+inside)

体内 tǐnèiinside the body (body+inside)

门内 ménnèiinside the door (inside+door)

国外 guówàiforeign (country+outside)

室外 shìwàioutdoor (room+outside)

体外 tǐwàioutside the body (outside+body)

门外 ménwàioutside the door (door+outside)

Chinese Compound Words With: 时 shí- time

小时- xiǎoshíhour (small+time)

到时 dàoshíat the time of arrival (arrive+time)

同时 tóngshíat the same time (same+time)

力 lì- power, ability

压力 yālìpressure, stress (press down+power)

能力 nénglìability (ability+power)

智力 zhìlìintelligence (wisdom+ability)

魄力 pòlìboldness (spirit+ability)

威力 wēilìpower, might (might+power)

人力 rénlìworkforce (person+power)

活力 huólìvitality (life+power)

火力 huǒlìfirepower (fire+power)

Chinese Compound Words With 灾 zāi- disaster

火灾 huǒzāifire disaster

水灾 shuǐzāiflood (or any water-related disaster)

蝗灾 huángzāiPlague of locusts

The First Morpheme adjusts the Second Morpheme turning it into a Chinese Compound Word

Chinese Compound Words: Verbs

热爱 rèài

ardently love, have a deep love for (hot/passionate & love, not just any kind of love, passionate love. “Love” is still the “biased” morpheme)

痛恨 tònghèn

hate bitterly, utterly detest (pain & hate, not just any kind of hate, hate that causes pain. “Hate” is still the “biased” morpheme of the Chinese Compound Word)

迟到 chídào

to arrive late (late & arrive, not just any kind of arrival, late arrival. “Arrive” is still the “biased” morpheme)

轻视 qīngshì

belittle, look down on, underrate (not important & look at, not just “looking at” anything, looking at something with a feeling that it is unimportant. “Look at” is still the “biased” morpheme)

公审 gōngshěn

Open Trial (in court) (public & interrogate, not just any interrogation, a public one. “Interrogate” is still the “biased” morpheme)

公演 gōngyǎn

Public performance (public & performance, not just any performance, a public one. “Performance” is still the “biased” morpheme)

静坐 jìngzuò

Sit Quietly (quiet & sit, not just any type of sitting, quiet sitting. “Sit” is still the “biased” morpheme)

高涨 gāozhǎng

rise; upsurge; run high (high & rise, not just any kind of rise, a *high* type of rise. “Rise” is still the “biased” morpheme)

Modifying Adjectives and Chinese Compound Words

These Biased words are similar to how we would make metaphorical comparisons in English like “as cold as ice” or “as straight as an arrow.” The second morpheme is still the more important; the first one is the “comparative” morpheme. Therefore they are Chinese Compound Words. Here are the examples:

冰冷 bīnglěngCool as ice (ice & cool)

火热 huǒrèHot as fire (fire & hot)

笔直 bǐzhíStraight as a pen (pen & straight)

草绿 cǎolǜGreen as grass (grass & green)

雪白 xuěbáiWhite as snow (snow & white)

枣红 zǎohóngRed as a jujube (jujube & red)

银灰 yínhuīGrey like silver (silver & grey)

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