Particle III – 得 Part I

  • We have learnt what Functions Words (虚词) are, and 2 of the particles : 了 and 的, which are also part of the function words.
  • Today we are going to learn another structural particles in Chinese, 得 ( de )
  • We have learnt the character ” 得 ” here. We are going to look into the grammar aspect of the character.
  • There are 3 pronunciations for 得: děi , de , dé . When 得 acts as a particle, it is pronounced as de .
  • As a structural particle, 得 is used to link a verb or an adjective to a complement which describes the manner or degree (degree complement).
    Sentence pattern:
    Subject + Verb + 得 + Degree Complement
    Subject + Adjective + 得 + Degree Complement
    她唱得不好  。 (She does not sing well.)
  • Besides, 得 is also inserted between a verb and its complement to express possibility or capability
    Sentence pattern:
    Subject + Verb + 得 + Potential Complement
    我拿得动。(I can carry it.)
  • Note: Unless you’ve spent time studying grammar or linguistics, you probably won’t have heard of complements. Read more about complement (linguistics) here.

1. 得 + Degree Complements

  • The degree complement assesses the extent or quality of an action, or the state of things after it. It is used to assess or describe verbs or adjectives.

    This book is very well-written.

    Subject Verb Structural Particle Degree
    这本书 非常好
    zhè běn shū xiě de fēi cháng hǎo
    this book is written particle very well

    She eat very quickly.

    Subject Verb Structural Particle Degree
    chī de hěn kuài
    she eat particle very quickly
  • For the first example, ‘非常好’ (very well) is the quality of the verb ‘写’ (write) and it is marked by 得.
  • For the second example, ‘很快’ (very quickly) is the quality of the verb ‘吃’ (eat) and it is marked by 得.
  • 得 directly follows the verb in a sentence.
  • Example:

    He was so happy he started jumping up and down.

    Subject Adjectvie Structural Particle Degree
    高兴 跳起来了
    gāo xìng de tiào qǐ lái le
    he happy particle jumping up and down
  • For the third example, ‘跳起来了’ describes adjective ‘高兴’ (happy). This often matches up with the English structure ‘so (adjective) that …’ .
  • As exercise, try to make a few sentences with ” 得 + Degree Complement ” sentence structure at comment section.
  • We will talk about ” 得 + Potential Complement ” next week. Stay tuned.
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6 thoughts on “Particle III – 得 Part I”

  1. Hi, I find this structure very confusing

    Also i always thought the general structure was Subject + adv + verb +object but in this construction it seems to be

    Subject + verb +de + adverb?

    e.g Ta1 shuo1 de hen3 hao3

    I guess thats my first question, what is the structure to follow? is hen3 hao3 not a modifier of shuo1?an adverb of the verb speak?

    1. Hi Jason,

      Just like English, the basic Chinese structure is

      Subject + Predicate
      Subject + Verb + Object (S-V-O)

      In some cases,
      Subject + Verb
      He runs.

      To extend,
      Subject + Verb + Adverb
      He runs quickly.
      In Chinese, you can say:
      or, it is more common we say it with a “得”

      However, for this example:
      This book is very well-written.
      or you may say:
      这本书非常好。(This book is very good.)

      But it is wrong to say:
      这本书写非常好。 (“得” is omitted)

      I hope my brief explanation will answer your question. I think a complement is a word or group of words that include adverb. I am not a linguistic expert so if I make any mistake, please correct me.

  2. Jason


    that clarifies alot, i’m not sure why I thought it was Subject + adverb +verb + object

    some things are confusing thoguh for instance

    你这里坐 – Please have a sit here, now as you can see in this case the adverb has gone before the verb

    你坐这里 – You can say it this way too and this way seems more correct to me.

    I think the difference between the above two is that the first one is saying “Please have a sit here” and the second one is like “you sit here”…?

    Anyway haha im sure Ill have some more q’s soon, I hope you dont mind

    对不起 麻烦了


  3. Also forgot to add how do i know whcih structures need 得 and which dont?

    in the example belowy 你坐这里。。 you dont say 你坐得这里 but why?


    1. Hi Jason,
      Your above examples are correct : 你这里坐 and 你坐这里. I think you understand the meaning between the two.
      I don’t think there are any special rules that will tell you when to use 得. When you read more, you will automatically know it. 🙂

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