Lesson 4: How to Differentiate the Three “De” Particles in Chinese -「的」,「地」and「得」
The three “de” particles of Chinese,「的」,「地」and「得」; are all pronounced as “de” with the neutral tone. Even though they sound the same, they have completely different meanings!
In Chinese,「的」is used to show:
Possession, just like “apostrophe s (‘s)” and “of” in English.
Structure: Subject + 的 + Noun
mǎlì de qiánbāo.
tā de māo.
wǒ de yī wèi péngyǒu.
A friend of mine.
Attribution, for describing an object.
Structure: Adjective + 的 + Noun
Yī jiàn hóngsè de chènshān.
A red shirt.
Yī wèi kě’ài de nǚhái.
A cute girl.
Emphasis, to explain a particular detail.
Structure: 是 + … + 的
wǒmen shì zài hánguó zhǎng dà de.
We grew up in Korea.
「地」works like the suffix “-ly” in English: it turns adjectives into adverbs.
Structure: Adjective + 地 + Verb = Adverb + Verb
tā xǐhuān hěn dàshēng de shuōhuà.
He likes to speak loudly.
nàgè rén zhǔnquè de huídá.
That person answered accurately.
In some situations, single-word-adjectives are repeated twice for emphasis purposes.
nǐ màn man de zǒu qù nàlǐ.
You walk to there slowly.
The last one, 「得」, is placed after a verb to indicate:
Adverbs, in order to give more information about the verb.
Structure: Verb + 得 + Adjective/Adverb
tā shuō zhōngwén shuō dé hěn liúlì.
He speaks Chinese very fluent.
nǐ zuò dé hěn hǎo.
You did well.
Possibility, which means an action can be done.
Structure: Verb + 得 + Adjective
wǒ kàn dé qīngchǔ.
I can see clearly.
Xiǎo gǒu tīng dé dǒng.
The puppy can understand (from listening).
As you might have noticed, both 「地」and「得」can come along with a verb. The best way to remember them:「地」usually appears before a verb, on the other hand, 「得」appears after a verb.
Before a noun, use 的。
Before a verb, use 地。
Before an adjective or an adverb, use 得。