Translation:My girlfriend is the most beautiful.
I used this phrase too. It’s definitely good English in some contexts and sounds more poetic. ... On reflection, I realise it is perfectly good English for a century or more ago but these days that would either be lazy (skipping ‘the’) or simply mean the same as she is exceedingly beautiful (ie very beautiful, superlatively beautiful, but not a comparison that says she is the (single) most beautiful of the lot). So I assume in mandarin zui piaoliang means the most beautiful (there can be only one) and not exceedingly beautiful (most beautiful but technically a possibility that someone else might be as beautiful). ... maybe a native mandarin speaker might tell us just how absolute and singular zui is.
The expressions "most beautiful" and "the most beautiful" are both perfectly good English but they mean slightly different things. The former is a general superlative comparison in relation to no specific group of girls, and so means something like "extremely beautiful", whereas the latter is said in comparison to a known or stated group of girls, and so is much more specific and therefore less of a generalisation. I do not know if that differentiation is implicit in the stated Mandarin sentence though.
You can say "most beautiful" as opposed to "the most beautiful," but you will come across as formal/stuffy/imperious. There's an art to saying "most (whatever)" (without the "the" in front) where it's obvious you are just playing with the language. If I tell my wife, "you are MOST beautiful, my dear," I will say it with an actor's flair. When a foreigner says "most (whatever)", I assume he doesn't quite get the nuance (although I will know what he means.)
Beautiful ––– More Beautiful ––– Most Beautiful.
Most is the highest you can go, and is more than everything else. Most is the opposite of the word "least".
Beautiful ––– Less Beautiful ––– Least Beautiful.
Here is a scale from least to most:
(Least beautiful, less beautiful, beautiful, more beautiful, most beautiful.)
The chinese character for most used here is 最 (zuì). The character for beautiful is 漂亮 (piàoliang), so 最漂亮 (zuì piàoliang) means "most beautiful."
As far as I understand there is no verb in this kind of sentences. 'Hen' means 'very', but is used in place of 'is'. You can think of it as caveman English "My girlfriend very beautiful!" or make a mental note that the adverb contains the verb sometimes 'hen' = 'is very', 'zui' = 'is most'. Latin has a similar habit of dropping 'is' : "Homo homini lupus" = "A man [is] a wolf to another man"
Yes you’re right (漂亮 is often translated as pretty and 美丽 as beautiful - and yes you could translate this as “My girlfriend is the prettiest.”）but neither is an exact translation （so there will be various contexts when English will use the word beautiful and mandarin will use the word 漂亮 and vice versa).
If you’re interested: Take a look at some more detailed translations of each word, with examples, to get a feeling for each. They are not just “pretty” or “beautiful”, they have their own associations in mandarin. (In English, someone saying you’re pretty might even mean you’re not quite enough so to be beautiful. I don’t think mandarin has that same association).
As a native speaker of English this doesn't sound right to me. "My girlfriend is the most beautiful...", ...there is no comparison reference. Obviously she is the most beautiful girl/woman but compared to what/whom? "Of all the girls here, my gf is the most beautiful." Okay, that I accept. "My girlfriend is the most beautiful...girl in the room." Also sounds fine to my ears. On other notes every time before this I've used 'pretty' and now it only accepts 'beautiful', marking 'pretty' as wrong. What's up with that?!
No, no, no! The verb is implied / not needed in sentences of the form "(noun) = (adjective)". In standard English we use some form of the verb "to be" to link the noun to the adjective, but Chinese dispenses with that -- just like some non-standard dialects of English ( "they rich", "he the most rich").
So 最 means "most" in my "he the most rich" example... Or better still it, think of it as meaning "- est", as in "he the richest".