The particle de 的 in Chinese has a few different uses. Here, we cover how to use de 的 for possession and de 的 with adjectives.
The particle 的 in Chinese is used to indicate possession. It acts a bit like ‘s in English for expressing ownership. The grammatical structure for using 的 to express possession is:
Noun/pronoun + 的 + noun
Let’s look at a few examples:
Zhè shì Dàwèi de shū.
This is David’s book.
Tā de gǒu jiào Xiǎo Bái.
Her dog is called Xiao Bai.
Nà gè fànguǎn de cài hěn hǎochī.
That restaurant’s food is delicious.
Note that when the noun that follows the possessive particle的is a close personal relationship (such as family, friends, or significant others), you can omit 的 from the sentence. For example:
Tā shì wǒ de māmā.
Tā shì wǒ māmā.
She is my mom.
Tā shì wǒ de nánpéngyǒu.
Tā shì wǒ nánpéngyǒu.
He is my boyfriend.
Mǎlì shì wǒ de tóngxué.
Mǎlì shì wǒ tóngxué.
Mary is my classmate.
However, for personal relationships which are more formal, the particle 的 should still be used, such as when talking about your boss or teacher:
Tā shì wǒ de lǎobǎn.
She is my boss.
Zhāng sān shì wǒ de lǎoshī.
Zhang San is my teacher.
Another use of 的 is for adjectives. 的 is used between a multi-syllable adjective and the noun it describes. The grammar structure for this usage of 的 is:
Adj + 的 + noun
Here are a few examples using 的.
Wǒ xiǎng mǎi yī jiàn piāoliàng de yīfú.
I want to buy a set of beautiful clothes.
Xiǎo Zhāng kāi hěn guì de chē.
Xiao Zhang drives a very expensive car.
Tā yǒu yī zhī fēicháng cōngmíng de gǒu.
He has an extremely smart dog.
You can see that the adjective or adjective phrase before 的 can be as long or complex as you want, as long as it is at least two characters. However, if the adjective is just one syllable, you should omit 的. Have a look at the following examples.
Nǐ chī dà píngguǒ.
You eat the big apple.
Shǒujī zài gāo zhuōzǐ shàng.
The cellphone is on the tall table.
Tā shì hǎo rén.
She is a good person.