The particle 的

So after learning Chinese for sometime, we already notice that the grammar is quite distinct,  would be a good proof, imagine you want to say ¨my book¨ in Chinese we don´t have possessive pronouns, we simply add after. The phrase would be 我的书wǒ de shū. This is one of the things 的 does. Let´s look more in details.

As a structural particle, 的 connects attributes with nouns, i already mentioned it can indicate possession, for example:

pronounnoun



de

shū (his book)
我们
wǒmen
的 
de
老师
lǎoshī (our teacher)

Here we have an adjective, and we use 的 to connect it with the noun. In Chinese verbs can also work as attributes, but remember we have to locate them always before the noun and with .

adjectivenoun
美丽
měilì

de
花园
huāyuán (beautiful garden)
verbnoun
吃        
chī 

de
东西
dōngxi (edible things)

Now let’s try to tell the differences between the following sentences/phrases:

他 买 水果.
Tā mǎi shuǐguǒ .
(He bought fruits)
他 买 水果 
Tā mǎi de shuǐguǒ
(The fruits he bought )

Notice that the second example is a noun, the “他买的” part modifies “水果”, and we can put it in more complex sentences, such as “他买的水果在桌上。Tā mǎi de shuǐguǒ zài zhuō shàng ” (The fruits he bought are on the table), Here are two more examples:

偷     他  车   的 人  跑    了。
Tōu tā chē de rén pǎo le
(The person who stole his bag ran away)

这     是   我    送   给  你  的 礼物。
Zhè shì wǒ sòng gěi nǐ de lǐwù.
(This is the gift i prepared for you)

The “+的” structure can also work as predicate, (I mean what can’t it do…), but it usually comes with the verb , and often used for defining and reinforce information, and don’t forget the adjectival sentences, we often use those too.

这   把 椅子      木头    做    的
Zhè bǎ yǐzi shì mùtóu zuò de.
(This chair is made of wood)

他   是    昨天     来 
shì zuótiān lái de.
(He came yesterday)

The 的 phrase

Sometimes to avoid repeating words or when the object is not clarified, we can omit the noun in  the “…+的+noun” structure:

你 吃 的(东西)都 带 了 吗?
chī de (dōngxi) dōu dài le ma ?
(Have you brought the things to eat?)

红 的 都 卖 光 了,只 剩下 一些 蓝 的了。
Hóng de dōu mài guāng le ,zhī shèngxià yī xiē lán de le.
(The red ones are sold out, there are only some blue ones left)

骑 车 的(人)过 来 了。
Qí chē de (rén) guò lái le.
(The person that drives the bike is coming)

When can we omit the particle“的”?

Most of the Chinese textbooks usually explain at the beginning that there are some occasions where you can omit 的, such as “If it is a relative, we can say 我爸爸 wǒ bàba instead of 我的爸爸 wǒ de bàba“. However there are more rules to it (yes, because… Since when things are easy in Chinese?). Still…for someone that especially wants to know these rules, this chart will be a good summary:

“的” is required after the attributes“的” can be omitted after the attributes
Personal pronounsTo indicate a possessive relation, can not be omitted: 
我们的老师
wǒmen de lǎoshī(our teacher)
他的书
tā de shū(his book)
1)To indicate the place or organization where one works, or studies,   “的” is often omitted.
我家wǒ jiā(my home)
我们学校wǒmen xuéxiào(our school)
他们公司tāmen gōngsī (their company)
2)To indicate relations between relatives, “的” is omitted.
我朋友wǒ péngyǒu( my friend)
他爷爷tā yéye(his grandapa)

AdjectivesWhen the adjectives have more than one syllable,  can not be omitted:
美丽的花
měilì de huā(beautiful flower)
安静的教室
ānjìng de jiāoshì (quite classroom)
When the adjectives have one syllable, and some of them have become fixed expressions, 的 can be omitted:
红花 hóng huā(red flower)
辣菜 làcài(spicy dishes)
热牛奶 rè niúnǎi(hot milk)
NounsWhen the attributes and the central words have possessive relations“” is required:
同学的笔tóngxué de bǐ(classmate’s pen)
父亲的眼镜fùqīn de yǎnjìng(fathers’ glasses)
1)When the nouns have one syllable, and some of them and the central words have become fixed expression,  is not required:
湖水 húshuǐ(the water of the lake)
树根 shùgēn( the root of the tree)
2)When the noun classifies the category of the central word, we can omit :
中文名字 Zhōngwén míngzi(Chinese name)
汉语老师 Hànyǔ lǎoshī(Chinese teacher)
中国人 Zhōngguó rén (Chinese)
Numbers and classifiersWith numbers as attributes, we need to add 
五十岁左右的老人
wǔshí suì zuǒyòu de lǎorén(an old person about fifty years old)
三百块钱的手表
sān bǎi kuài qián de shǒubiǎo (a 300¥ watch)
With classifiers as attributes,  is not required:
一位老人 yī wèi lǎorén( an old person)
三斤香蕉 sān jīn xiāngjiāo ( 1.5 kilos of bananas)
Verbs的 is always required:
玩的东西
wán de dōngxī(things to play)
跑着的男孩
pǎo zhe de nánhái(the boy who is running)
Phrases的 is always required:
她买的裙子
tā mǎi de qúnzi
(the dress she bought)

“的” as modal particle

“的” is used as a modal particle at the end of sentences, to add an affirmative tone. For example:

你 不用 着急,他 一会儿 会 来 
Nǐ búyòng zháojí ,tā yīhuìr huì lái de.
(Don’t worry, he will come in a bit)

这 本 书 是 新 出版 .
Zhè běn shū shì xīn chūbǎn de.
(This book is recently published)

There is often this 是 … 的 structure, with the same effect :

你  这么 做 是 不  行 
Nǐ zhème zuò shì bù xíng de
(You can’t do it like this)

It is used at the end of interrogative sentences to add questioning tone. For example:

你 的 钱 是 从 哪儿 弄 来 
Nǐ de qián shì cóng nǎr nòng lái de
(Where did you get the money?)

It is also used after the adjectives or adjectival phrases to enhance certain state, usually when describing people’s aspects:

她  的 脸 红红 
Tā de liǎn hónghóng de.
(Her face is quite red)

他所有的衣服都是破破
Tā suǒyǒu de yīfu dōu shì pòpò de .
(All his clothes are torn up)

Finally,  in some common expressions we also use . For example:

你 今天 气色 挺 好 
Nǐ jīntiān qìsè tǐng hǎo de.
(You look quite good today)

这 家 店 的 衣服 有的 贵,有的 便宜。
Zhè jiā diàn de yīfu yǒude guì ,yǒude piányi.
(Some of the clothes in this shop are expensive, some are cheap)

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