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3.5.1: Expressing close possession without "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 (de). But sometimes when certain (especially close) relationships are involved, it's more natural to drop the 的 (de).


    Pronoun + Noun

    Normally possession is expressed using the particle 的 (de). However, you can omit 的 (de) in these cases:

    • A close personal relationship is involved (family, close friends, boyfriends or girlfriends)
    • 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。 jiā hěn dà.My house is very big.
    • 你 哥哥 很 高 。 gēge hěn gāo.Your big brother is very tall.
    • 这 是 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 爸爸我们 公司 的 老板。Tā bàba shì wǒmen gōngsī de lǎobǎn.His dad is the boss of our company.

    If 的 (de) was used in the above examples, it would create an unnatural sense of distance between the two.

    This page titled 3.5.1: Expressing close possession without "de" is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by .

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