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I believe that both of these constructions create what is called a "subordinate clause". I know that 的 can be used to specify something like:

  • 我喜欢的东西 (those things which I like),
  • 很远的地方 (the place which is far), and
  • 跟他谈恋爱的人 (the person who he is dating)

Is it true that all these examples also work with 所...的?

Does 所...的 carry a connotation that is not present in ...的?

Are there circumstances where one is preferred to the other?

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Oh I forgot to tell you: 很远的地方 is just adv. + adj. + noun, "very distant place"; and 跟他谈恋爱的人 is a little complex, prep. + object + verb + 的 + noun. These two kinds of structures can be hardly found corresponding 所...的 structures. – Stan Jul 4 '13 at 10:40
This link containing some examples may help to clarify. – 杨以轩 Jul 22 '13 at 10:30
up vote 8 down vote accepted

所...的 and ...的 are different.

Function of ...的

As you have already known, ...的 can construct adjective clause.


(subject + verb) + 的 + noun = noun + which + subject + verb

And in Chinese, the noun can be omitted in a clear context. In this case, ……的 constructs a noun clause.

我喜欢的(人)是你。 Who I like is you.

(subject + verb) + 的 = what/who + subject + verb

Function of 所...的

Though it's not so obvious, the function of in 所...的 is

5. 用在动词前,与前面的“为”或“被”字相应,表示被动的意思

is put before a verb, corresponding to the previous or , indicating passive voice. (And 为/被 is often omitted.)

Unfortunately, many chinese verbs are either transitive or intransitive, so the sentences containing ...的 or 所...的 often look alike.

我爱的人 the person who I love

(被)我所爱的人 [literal translation] the person who is loved by me

我讨厌的是你。 Who I hate is you.

我所讨厌的是你。 [literal translation] (The person) who is hated by me is you.

Difference between them

Thus, the difference between the two structures is whether it is passive voice or not. In most cases, one can be reconstructed to another.

Q: So, which one should I use in the xxx case?

A: It depends on personal choice. Just as you didn't said which one should be used (by me) in the xxx case?

EDIT: Some irreplaceable examples

There is preference in some situations. Some idioms can only be expressed in a unique voice (active or passive). Though this meaning of 4. 用在动词前,代表接受动作的事物 is listed as a single entry, in the grammar structure, it's actually the passive voice. So I include it in the passive-only case.

Active-Only Examples

(Right) 天杀 政府 the goddamn government = [literal translation] the government which god should kill

(Wrong) 政府

(Right) 狗日 政府 the fxxking government = [literal translation] the government which dogs should fxxk

(Wrong) 政府

Passive-Only Example

(Right) 正义 your so-called justice = [literal translation] the justice which is called (only) by you

(Wrong) 你谓 正义

is a special verb, so in the example above (well, I don't mean everywhere), it can only be in the passive voice. However, a character with the same meaning, , can be in either active or passive voice.

Both 你说的正义 and 你所说的正义 are OK.

Anyway, idioms always need to be memorized mechanically. It's difficult to find an easy rule for them.

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Comments have been cleared. Just a reminder, the comments section should not be used to carry on extended discussion. These discussions should be taken to chat. – xiaohouzi79 Jul 29 '13 at 2:41

"所" is from ancient chinese or archaic chinese,“所+ vt” just denotes the object of vt,For example,“所思在远道”,but since Sui or Tang dynasty,there have been exceptions like “所守或非亲”,“所守"just denotes the subject of vt .

In Mandarin,“所+VT” may be followed by “的” where you may omit 所to have a more speech-styled sentence,or may not be followed by “的” where the sentence is consistent with archaic chinese,and you can not omit 所to have a well-formed sentence ,like "所谓清白,也就说不清楚了".In both cases,they are more formal ,less speech-styled,since "所" is from ancient chinese or archaic chinese. So,

Question 1 Is it true that all these examples also work with 所...的? No,since some words or sentence are familiar-styled and used in familiar speech,if you add 所 into the sentence,it sound like joking.

Question 2 Does 所...的 carry a connotation that is not present in ...的? Please see what I say above

Question 2 Are there circumstances where one is preferred to the other? Yes,in formal circumstances,you may use 所...的;in familiar speech,we have to use only 的 without 所。

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+1, orthodox explanation. – Stan Jul 22 '13 at 9:02

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