Analysis on Comprehensive Meaning of Chinese word "好" (hao)

(Last Modified: 2019-06-20 17:42:24    Author: jinyu)

For Chinese learners of primary levels, they may get perplexed that some words are pronounced at 4 different tones, and that some words have different meanings. Among those multi-vocal characters or polysemantic words, "好" (hao) is a good example.

cover img for chinese character hao

It is a character which has 2 pronouncing tones and conveys around 10 different meanings. Actually, this word is easy to articulate and useful for beginners in many situations, just because of its versatility. In this article, we will have a study on its tones and meanings.

Hǎo (Third tone)

Third tone is more commonly used for "好". When pronounced as "hǎo", its meanings are:

1. abundant in advantages or satisfactory, adjective. For instance:

好人 ("hǎo rén")

[Good man]

好事 ("hǎo shì")

[Good thing]

阳光温暖着坏人与好人。 ("yáng guāng wēn nuǎn zhe huài rén yǔ hǎo rén")

[Sun rise on both evil and good people.]

2. healthy and blessed, adjective. For example:

安好 ("ān hǎo")

[safe and sound]

他看起来很好。 ("tā kàn qǐ laí hěn hǎo")

[He seems healthy.]

3. friendly or harmonious, adjective. Example:

友好 ("yǒu hǎo")

[friendly]

相好 ("xiāng hǎo")

[intimate]

他愿意和她好聚好散。 ("tā yuàn yì hé tā hǎo jù hǎo sàn")

[He is willing to break up with her in a peaceful way.]

4. easily or smoothly, adverb. Example:

好办 ("hǎo bàn")

[can be done easily]

好懂 ("hǎo dǒng")

[can be understood easily]

公司的事比较好办。 ("gōng sī de shì bǐ jiào ròng yì hǎo bàn")

[Affairs of the company are easy to handle.]

5. finished or accomplished, adjective. Example:

好了 ("hǎo lè"")

[it is finished.]

事情办好之后就告诉我。 ("shì qíng bàn hǎo zhī hòu jiù gào sù wǒ")

[Tell me when this matter is finished.]

6. used to express agreement, acceptance or compliment, exclamation. Example:

好的 ("hǎo de")

[OK]

("hǎo")

[OK]

好的,请稍等。 ("hǎo de, qǐng shāo děng")

[Alright, one moment please.]

好!做的不错。 ("hǎo, zuò de bú cuò")

[Very good! well done.]

7. very or quite, adverb. Example:

好冷 ("hǎo lěng")

[quite cold]

好快 ("hǎo kuài")

[very fast]

学校来了好多人。 ("xué xiào laí le hǎo duō rén")

[There are so many people in the school.]

8. so as to, auxiliary verb. Example:

你拿个袋子好装东西。 ("nǐ ná ge dài zi hǎo zhuāng dōng xī")

[You take a bag so as to put things well.]

青春作伴好还乡。 ("qīng chūn zuò bàn hǎo huán xiāng")

[The company of sunny spring makes it suitable for return back.]

9. used to express discontent, irony. Example:

这下倒好,全都打碎了。 ("zhè xià dào hǎo, quán dōu dǎ suì le")

[This is bad. All of them are broken.]

In summary, the above usages of 1, 4, 5, 6 and 7 are relatively common and are effortless to learn through dialog. Here is a good example for more practice:

A: 爸爸,今天你回来的好早。 ("bà bà, jīn tiān nǐ huí lái de hǎo zǎo")

[Dad, you come back so early today.]

B: 是啊,出去办事遇见了好人,没多久就弄好了。 ("shì a, chū qù bàn shì yù jiàn le hǎo rén, méi duō jiǔ jiù nòng hǎo le")

[Yeah, I met a good guy, so the affairs were handled soon.]

A: 原来是这样,那你以后就好办了。 ("yuán lái shì zhè yàng, nà nǐ yǐ hòu jiù hǎo bàn le")

[I see. Then your things will be finished easily.]

B: 是啊,吃饭吧。 ("shì a, chī fàn ba")

[Yes, time to eat.]

A: 好的。 ("hǎo de")

[OK.]

Hào (Fourth tone)

When it is pronounced as fourth tone, the word changes on both meaning and part of speech. Below are the 2 usages.

1. like or be interested in, verb. Example:

好客 ("hào kè")

[like to entertain guests (hospitable)]

好奇 ("hào qí")

[be interested in things new or unknown (curious)]

好斗 ("hào dòu")

[be keen on fight (aggressive)]

好学 ("hào xué")

[be fond of learning (studious)]

好事 ("hào shì")

[be fond of meddling (meddlesome)]

好色 ("hào sè")

[be fond of women or sex (lecherous)]

2. be prone to, auxiliary verb. Example:

刚学会骑车的人好摔跤。 ("gāng xué huì qí chē de rén hào shuāi jiāo")

[A man who has newly learned to ride is prone to fall down.]

"好" is a special character with multiple pronunciations and various definitions. Meanwhile, it is almighty for the use of different situations. There are many more words like this in Chinese, thus a fully master of their grammatical rules can greatly improve learners' expressiveness as well as reduce difficulties in comprehension.

Data source: Xinhua Dictionary -