I have found the following two sentences:


Why does the former not use but the latter does? I know you can remove if you express family's relation as stated in other question, but this is not the case here...

Is there any other rule to remove in Mandarin?

  • see e.g.外国人实用汉语语法,271页:3。下列情况用不用"的"都可以:定语。。。形容词:双音词修饰双音词 举例:幸福(的)生活 痛苦(的)回忆 (this question must have been asked before)
    – user6065
    Aug 4, 2015 at 23:55
  • add to comment#1:实用现代汉语语法,479页:有些形容词常与某些名词组合,形成了一个比较稳固的短语,中间常常不用"的"。例如:7。关键时刻就要当机立断,坚持原则。8。要把国内外一切积极因素动起来。类似的短语如"糊涂虫"、"老师人"、"俏皮话"、"正经事"、"可怜相"、"重大贡献"、"先进单位"、"伟大胜利"等。
    – user6065
    Aug 5, 2015 at 2:50
  • You could use, or not use for both cases here. IMO, 传统音乐 and 传统玩具 tend to be proper noun, so It will be more natural if not using .
    – user4072
    Aug 5, 2015 at 3:07
  • I remember my teacher thought us 的 can be disregarded in most of the cases as a 定语/形容词; unless it sounds di2(的确).
    – Meruemu
    Aug 5, 2015 at 19:22
  • @Meruemu What is di2(的确)?
    – Blaszard
    Aug 5, 2015 at 21:57

5 Answers 5


The words "的" for adjectives or "地" for adverbs are optional. e.g. 快速上升 = 快速地上升 (ascend rapidly), 聪明人 = 聪明的人 (clever man). Ancient Chinese didn't have these conjunctions/sometimes used other conjunctions(e.g. 然). You might treat the version without these conjunctions as a bit more formal/written, but that's not always the case. Either version is perfectly understandable/acceptable to people.


Usually, when you have a noun marking the characteristic of another noun, it usually doesn't take 的, since 的 many times expresses possession。Example:

中国 X 茶 Chinese tea (the tea's feature is being Chinese).
中国 的 茶 "Tea of China" (the tea belongs to China, it isn't necessarily Chinese. Maybe it's Japanese tea and China bought a load from them, so now it belongs to China)


You can put '的‘ in between '传统‘ and '音乐‘。 That would not be wrong, but normally (traditionally??) Chinese people just say '传统音乐'。I'm told it sounds strange to say '传统的音乐‘。 Maybe internally it is considered a compound noun made from 2 nouns 'tradition' and 'music', not an adjective-noun construction, but that is just a guess.

  • 5
    传统音乐 sounds like a proper noun/musical terminology to me, regardless whether it really is.
    – NS.X.
    Aug 5, 2015 at 8:16
  • My question is how you can tell the consecutive nouns with 的 from those without 的. Is there any rule or do we have to memorize all the words one by one?
    – Blaszard
    Aug 5, 2015 at 13:39
  • 传统(名)therefore:实用现代汉语语法478页:有些名词作定语时不表示领属关系,而表示人的职业或事物的原料、属性、来源等,属于描写性定语。此类定语与后面的中心语结合的很紧,一般不用"的",甚至不能用"的",而且意义上有一定的熟语性。例如:语文老师--教语文的老师*语文的老师,纸箱子--用纸做的箱子*纸的箱子,历史问题--历史上出现过的问题*历史的问题,纺织工艺--关于纺织的工艺*纺织的工艺。有时名词定语后用"的"与不用"的"表示的语法关系不同,意思也不同。比较:他是我们的班主任老师。(描写性的)他是我们的班主任的老师。(表示领属关系)敌人的狐狸尾巴露出来了。(描写性的)狐狸的尾巴很大。(表示领属关系)。iciba:传统观念、传统剧目、传统看法、传统习惯、传统势力、传统友谊。
    – user6065
    Aug 5, 2015 at 15:38
  • @Blaszard I supposed that without using 的, we are forming compounds, and with 的 we are using words to form phrases. Therefore, whether we use 的 depends on what vocabulary Chinese speakers use and how they use it, and therefore I think this is a matter to memorize. I think that the rule (if any) that governs the choice is very abstract.
    – HYC
    Oct 20, 2015 at 3:16


This means they are playing "traditional music" as a type of music, more along the lines of "jazz" or "hip hop" or "baroque".


When expressed this way, the meaning is closer to "a toy which is traditional". "Traditional" is more emphasized here. It's not just any toy, it's a traditional toy.


他们正在演奏传统的音乐。 这是一个传统玩具。 you can think above is the same as your example.

because "的" can be omitted. just remember this reason and use it as if idiomatically

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