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I've always been curious about this: What is the grammatical reason for 的 at the end of these short responses?

Q: 這樣好嗎? A: 好的。

Q: 你是美國人嗎? A: 是的。

Q: 你會彈鋼琴嗎? A: 會的。

Can someone shed some light on it for me?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

的: positive response? Not exactly!

The function of is well stated in 漢典:

4 . 助词,用在句末, 表示肯定的语气 ,常与“是”相应:这句话是很对~。

At the end of a sentence, 的 is an auxiliary word, indicating a response with emphasized confidence. It is often used in the "是……的" structure.

I think it's not proper to literally translate 表示肯定的语气 into "indicating a positive response". That's because, although the example sentence

这句话是很对的。 This sentence is quite right.

is a positive response, a negative response in the 是...的 structure perfectly make sense too!

这句话是不对的。 This sentence is not right.

The 是...的 structure has been well studied in this question. See golddc and 孤影萍踪's answer.

的 in a short answer

Come back to OP's question. Indeed, when 的 is used in a short answer, it's generally a positive answer.

Q: 你會彈鋼琴嗎? A: 會的。

Q: Can you play piano? A: (Yes), I can.

But I would rather say, this effect is related to psychology. Most of the time, we tend to be confident to give a positive response; however on the contrary, a negative response is seldom stated with confidence.

Q: 你會彈鋼琴嗎? A: 不會的。

The grammar is perfect in this sentence, but it would sound like:

Q: Can you play piano? A: Of course I can't.

You would feel such an answer sounds cynic.

For a neutral question (I mean, whether a "yes" or a "no" answer won't be specially expected), a negative response with confidence is commonly used too.

Q:他會來嗎? A:不會的。

Q: Will he come? A: I'm sure he won't.

Q:你是黨員嗎? A:不是的。

Q: Are you a party member? A: Of course not.

It is grammatically perfect and sounds right.

Conclusion

In Chinese, 肯定的语气 is a little ambiguous. It can mean either "positive mood" or "confident mood". In this auxiliary word 的 case, 肯定的语气 is better to be considered as the confident mood.

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I like this answer better. I don't feel like "这句话是很对的" is an example of my question, which is why I was confused by that definition. However, this explanation is more thorough. –  AMorrise Jul 1 '13 at 3:03
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的 has different meanings, but in your examples, all three 的 are auxiliary words. In general, it should be located at the end of sentence, indicating a positive response.

For more info, please check online Chinese dict 汉典: http://www.zdic.net/z/1f/js/7684.htm

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@AlexMorrise it's point 4 of the third definition: "助词,用在句末,表示肯定的语气,常与“是”相应:这句话是很对~。" –  congusbongus Jun 30 '13 at 23:57
    
@CongXu - If you understand the relevant information from the source it would be helpful if you could assist by pulling it across and adding it to the answer. It is important that we keep answers to questions on this site and not on external pages. –  xiaohouzi79 Jul 1 '13 at 0:44
    
Can you please expand your answer by taking the relevant information from the external source and putting it in your answer. If this is completely in Chinese if you can also provide an English explanation. Providing a link to an external source as the main part of your explanation risks having your answer deleted as does not provide the necessary information on this site. –  xiaohouzi79 Jul 1 '13 at 0:46
    
@xiaohouzi79 Perhaps it's borderline in this case, but to me user1676010 has already provided the source information in English: 助词 (auxiliary words), 用在句末 (located at the end of sentence), 表示肯定的语气 (indicating a positive response). –  congusbongus Jul 1 '13 at 0:54
    
I'm not so sure about Definition 4 because the example goes along better with Definition 1. "这句话是很对的" means to me "This sentence is (a) very true (one)." –  AMorrise Jul 1 '13 at 2:18
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I think there is the grammatical and dictionary version of the explanation, but also you can look at it from the way people talk in everyday life. In my experience, omitting 的 at the end of a response seems to cut the response short, as if someone is either given a short response, like 會 (yep) versus 會的 (I can/I know); 是 (yes) versus 是的 (that's correct). The other way to look at it is to express a more affirmative mood as described above by Stan.

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That makes sense to me. I know that Chinese speakers really like two-syllable pairs (e.g. 很好 instead of just 好), so I suppose adding 的 goes along with that. –  AMorrise Jul 12 '13 at 17:51
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