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7.5: Lesson 6 Grammar - Expressing "must" with 得 (děi)

  • Page ID
    65670
  • The auxiliary verb 得 (děi) means "must." Yes, it's annoying that the same character can also be pronounced "de," but at least when you use 得 (děi), there's no ambiguity like with the word 要 (yào).

    Structure 

    Normally, when you see 得, it's a particle and is pronounced "de." However, it can also be an auxiliary verb. In this case it's pronounced "děi" and means "must."

         Subj. + 得 + [Verb Phrase]

    Examples 

    • 我们得走了。
      Wǒmen děi zǒu le.
      We have to leave now.
       
    • 时间不早了,我得回家了。
      Shíjiān bù zǎo le, wǒ děi huíjiā le.
      It's getting late. I have to go home.
       
    • 他是你弟弟,你得帮他。
      Tā shì nǐ dìdi, nǐ děi bāng tā.
      He is your younger brother. You must help him.
       
    • 不好意思,你得马上离开。
      Bù hǎoyìsi, nǐ děi mǎshàng líkāi.
      Excuse me, but you have to leave here right now.
       
    • 在学校就得听老师的话。
      Zài xuéxiào jiù děi tīng lǎoshī de huà.
      You have to listen to the teacher at school.
       
    • 你得先付钱再进去。
      Nǐ děi xiān fù qián zài jìnqù.
      You need to pay before you go in.
       
    • 是你的错,你得道歉。
      Shì nǐ de cuò, nǐ děi dàoqiàn.
      It's your fault. You must apologize.
       
    • 他没有经验,你得教教他。
      Tā méiyǒu jīngyàn, nǐ děi jiāojiao tā.
      He doesn't have experience. You must teach him.
       
    • 明天去面试,你得穿得正式一点。
      Míngtiān qù miànshì, nǐ děi chuān de zhèngshì yīdiǎn.
      You must wear something more formal for tomorrow's job interview.
       
    • 你病得太厉害了,得去看医生。
      Nǐ bìng de tài lìhai le, děi qù kàn yīshēng.
      You are really sick. You must go see a doctor.

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

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