Particle III – 得 Part II

  • Last week, we have learnt about the structural particles 得 ( de ) which acts as degree complement. Link here.
  • Today we are going to learn the particle 得 with potential complement.
  • 得 can be 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.)

2. 得 + Potential Complements

  • The potential complement indicates whether or not something can happen, or someone has the ability to do something. As the name suggests, it’s all about the potential of something.

    I can read (and understand) Chinese.

    Subject Verb Structural Particle Potential
    kàn de dǒng zhōng wén
    I read particle understand Chinese
  • This sentence is not about whether or not you have read some Chinese, it is about whether you understand it. It describes your ability in general; your potential to read Chinese.
  • Example:
    I am able to finish writing it.
    Subject Adjectvie Structural Particle Potential Complement Sound
    xiě de wán
    I write particle finish
  • Only the positive form of the potential complement uses 得. In the negative form, 得 is replaced by 不.

    我看不懂中文。 ( I can’t read (and understand) Chinese. )


    我写不完。 ( I am not able to finish writing. )

  • The ” 得 + Potential Complements ” sentence pattern  often matches up with the English structure ‘… able to …’ .
  • As exercise, try to make a few sentences with ” 得 + Potential Complement ” sentence structure at comment section.
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