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4.7: Lesson 3 Grammar - Expressing close possession without 的 (de)

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  • \( \newcommand{\vecs}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \) \( \newcommand{\vecd}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash {#1}}} \)\(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)\(\newcommand{\AA}{\unicode[.8,0]{x212B}}\)

    Expressing possession in Chinese is accomplished with the particle 的 (de, “belonging”). But sometimes when certain relationships are involved, especially close relationships, it's more natural to drop the 的 (de). 

    Here are a couple cases where you can omit 的 (de):

    • When a close personal relationship is involved (family, close friends, boyfriends or girlfriends)
    • When an institutional or organizational relationship is involved (school, work)

    In these cases 的 (de) should be omitted. It doesn't sound as natural if you leave it in.


    • 我家很大。
      Wǒ jiā hěn dà.
      My house is very big.
    • 你哥哥很高。
      Nǐ gēge hěn gāo.
      Your big brother is very tall.
    • 这是我女朋友。
      Zhè shì wǒ nǚpéngyou.
      This is my girlfriend.
    • 她妈妈很漂亮。
      Tā māma hěn piàoliang.
      Her mom is very pretty.
    • 我们学校很大。
      Wǒmen xuéxiào hěn dà.
      Our school is big.
    • 他们公司在北京。
      Tāmen gōngsī zài Běijīng.
      Their company is in Bejing.
    • 你男朋友很帅。
      Nǐ nánpéngyou hěn shuài.
      Your boyfriend is very handsome.
    • 他儿子很有名。
      Tā érzi hěn yǒumíng.
      His son is really famous.
    • 我女儿会说英语。
      Wǒ nǚ'ér huì shuō Yīngyǔ.
      My daughter can speak English.
    • 他爸爸是我们公司的老板。
      Tā bàba shì wǒmen gōngsī de lǎobǎn.
      His dad is the boss of our company.

    [adapted from AllSet Learning Chinese Grammar Wiki, Creative Commons License BY-NC-SA 3.0]

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    Any Questions? 

    If you have any questions about this grammar point, please ask in the class forums!

    This page titled 4.7: Lesson 3 Grammar - Expressing close possession without 的 (de) is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Carl Polley (裴凯).