I've read the two different sentences, of which one uses "他的太太" and the other uses "他太太". How can I tell the difference between the two?
For example, in the following sentence:
Which is the correct sentence? And why?
When you want to express possessive relations concerning family members or relatives, you don't need 的.
I have done some searches with different expressions with and without 的, and I see that this rule is not applied consistently.
EDIT: There are ambiguous cases, e.g.
你们孩子 could mean "You children" or "Your children" (with plural you in both cases, of course). In such cases
你们的孩子 would make it clear what the speaker means.
The omission of
的 is not limited to family relationships. Consider
In my opinion, (1) sounds extremely ungrammatical, (3) sounds slightly contrived but otherwise acceptable, and the others are perfectly grammatical. There are also fixed expressions like
我國 (my country; compare 'the US navy' with
我方 (my side in a debate) which I'm not going to go into.
More fun awaits as we explore non-possessive adjectives:
These are all valid sentences, although it seems the mono-character adjective
紅 is generally not favored in this context.
I don't think I can give you a hard-and-fast rule for when
的 is needed. The situation is somewhat similar to the confusion learners of English have with articles.
的 must be inserted in case of ambiguity (e.g.
你們的孩子, as suggested by Drunken Master, although the former might be better replaced by
孩子們 in the vocative), and likely to be inserted after multi-character adjectives or before multi-character nouns.
的 is optional in many cases though; using
的 too much makes you sound distinctively like someone who's translating word-for-word from English.
I think the bottom line is how the sentence sounds like.
的 could be dropped if it helps the pace of the sentence, or if you're writing a news headline and have to be frugal with characters. In any event, do not write something like
書本的封面的顏色的色調 (a direct translation of 'hue of the color of the cover of the book') like the authors in the early 1900s.
As a native speaker of Chinese, here is what I can say:
When referring to people, we often skip "的". For example, 他太太，他父亲，你女儿... When referring to things, we almost always use "的". Otherwise, it sounds really weird. For example, 你的车子，他的学校，他的袜子...
Welcome to contact me for more language questions: firstname.lastname@example.org
As another native Mandarin speaker, I think there really isn't any difference between.... 我的车坏了 versus 我车坏了
When in writing however, it's better to use the formal way: 我的车坏了.
In my case, when speaking, I usually get lazy and try to omit as much as I can without changing the meaning of the sentence, so both of the examples above means the same thing.