When I learned the word 太太, I was also told that you would not say "这是我的太太", because using 的 with people would sound too possessive.

Now, the other day I was saying goodbye to a native Chinese chat partner, I wrote "再见,我朋友". And he didn't understand. When I wrote it in English again, he said that it should be "再见,我的朋友". I asked him why and what I had learned, but I wasn't able to really understand his answer.

So, can someone please explain to me when to use 的 with people and when not to?

  • it may be a difference between form of address (with 的,second person)and reference to third person
    – user6065
    Commented Nov 1, 2016 at 12:14

1 Answer 1


Your question should be " when can I omit the possessive 的 "

The adjective suffix 的 cannot be omitted when it is needed. For example: 强大,勇敢人;身形高大人; Adjectives that do not need adjective suffix can directly apply to the object. For example 好(good) in 好女儿(good daughter)

The possessive 的 in 这是我太太; 他是我女儿;陈先生是我上司 can be omitted to 这是我太太; 他是我女儿;陈先生是我上司 when there's a verb to act on the object, for example 是 is the verb and 我(的)女儿 is the object.

You cannot omit the possessive 的 when there's no verb to act on the object . That's why you have to say 再见了, 我朋友 but not 再见了, 我朋友.

Unless you also omit the subject. In this case, . Then you can omit the possessive 的 along with the subject and write 再见了, 朋友.

More examples:

  • In 你打了我的女儿 - 打 is the verb and 我(的)女儿 is the object, therefore, you can omit 的 and write 你打了我女儿

  • In 你好吗?我的好女儿,there's no verb to act on the object 我的好女儿, therefore, you cannot omit the sentence to 你好吗?我好女儿

  • In 我(的)上司是陈先生 - 我(的)上司 is the subject, 的 can be omitted'

  • In 我(的)女儿打了人 - 我(的)女儿 is the subject, 的 can be omitted

  • answer seems to mention only one case when "there is no verb acting on the object" ,namely that of the Q, in which it occurs as a form of address, are there other cases?
    – user6065
    Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 5:31
  • You meant other cases that possessive 的 cannot be omitted? Most likely when it is actually adjective suffix 的, For example: 你好吗?我勇敢的女儿
    – Tang Ho
    Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 5:50
  • other cases when "there is no verb acting on the object" , the new example is again as in Q, 我勇敢的女儿 addresses a second person
    – user6065
    Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 6:34
  • It is in my answer- in the sentence 我(的)女儿打了人, 女儿 is a third person. Since there's no verb acting on 女儿, according to my answer, the possessive 的 should not be omitted. However, 我(的)女儿 in this sentence is the subject, not the of object. Therefore, the possessive 的 can still be omitted.
    – Tang Ho
    Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 6:55
  • 有某些用户只不过重复其以前说的话而这样做,就避免回答评论所提出的问题 some users evade issues raised in comments by repeating points made earlier
    – user6065
    Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 8:39

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