I got a translation of “Are hospitals in your country good?” from a native speaker of Mandarin as:

你国家的医院好吗?

Why there is no 的 after 你? It is after a pronoun for instance in such a sentence:

我的妈妈的房子很高。

  • 1
    I guess it's the difference between “Are hospitals in your country good?” and 你国家的医院好吗?and "Are your country's hospitals good?" 你的国家医院好吗? (although the grammar is not quite right!) – user3306356 Dec 16 '16 at 9:46
  • 那是省略掉了。我們會盡量避免一個句子中有太多的 “的”。 – user-487 Dec 16 '16 at 10:05
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    Having two 的 in a single sentence sounds unusual. You can also say: 你所国家的医院好吗? – rhughes Dec 18 '16 at 11:51
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    @rhughes “你所国家的医院好吗” seems strange in Chinese. Maybe you mean “你所【在】国家的医院好吗”? – xmcp Dec 20 '16 at 14:37
up vote 9 down vote accepted

This question is really about: " when can we omit the possessive 的 "

1.(adjective suffix):

For example:

  • 强大勇敢 (strong and brave)

  • 强大勇敢人 (strong and brave man)

You cannot omit the adjective suffix 的 and write 强大勇敢人

  • 高大 (tall and big)

  • 高大人 (tall and big man)

You cannot omit the adjective suffix 的 and write 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)

2.(possessive):

我(的)衣服的鈕扣的顏色是白色的。 can be reduced to: 我衣服鈕扣的顏色是白色的。

(The last 的 is not omitted because it is not a possessive 的 but an adjective suffix 的.)

The same with your example sentences:

  • 你(的)国家的医院好吗?can be reduced to: 你国家的医院好吗?

  • 我(的)妈妈的房子很高。can be reduced to: 我妈妈的房子很高。

From user3a's answer:

The “的” before the subject is usually kept.

Others can be omitted, if possible.

I say it is wrong. The possessive '的' after a subject is usually kept, if it is a 'true possessive'(something you actually own) For example: The possessive 的 in 我車 cannot be omitted and make it "我車"

On the other hand, if the '的' is a 'relative possessive'(something you don't actually own) can be omitted. For example: you can omit the '的' in '我的母亲' and write 我母亲.

More example:

The possessive 的 in 这是我太太; 他是我女儿; 你国家; 你公司 can be omitted. You can write 这是我太太; 他是我女儿; 你国家; 你公司 (if you actually own the country or the company, then the possessive 的 should be kept)

Again with your example sentence:

  • 我(的)妈妈的房子很高。 can be reduced to: 我妈妈的房子很高。

  • 我(的)牛(的)角很长。 cannot be reduced to: 我牛的角很长。 or 我的牛角很长。

(you possess the cow and the cow possesses the horns, neither can be omitted.)

I believe that 的 is omitted because it's not in the front of the subjects or objectives and because it's not fluent to use too many "的" in a sentence.

In the TangHo's answer the "strong 强大的" and "tall 高的" are also adjectives.
Why did he omit the "的"?

The "的" in "好(的)女儿" is omitted because it's not fluent either.
I don't think it's due to "do not need adjective suffix".
Although "好女儿会很孝顺" is more fluent and simple, I think "好的女儿会很孝顺" is also acceptable.

In the user3a's answer he/she said "The“的” before the subject is usually kept."
But TangHo quoted as "after".
I don't think it's a mistake because we usually do the "copy and paste" when we quote something.
I guess TangHo did it intentionally, because it's impossible to read "before" as "after".
Don't twist other user's answer, TangHo.

As I know, the "的" in "这是我的车" can also be omitted.
I think "这是我车" and "我牛的角很长" are acceptable in the verbal talking.
You can ask your Chinese friends, MrVocabulary.

  • in '我衣服鈕扣的', '鈕扣' is the subject, and 的 is after it. (I know 鈕扣 is the subject because 'the color is white' describe the button, not I) I presume he made a mistake by stating "的 before the subject should be kept", but actually meant "的 after the subject should be kept". Otherwise, his example would be wrong. I am Chinese, I do think 这是我车, 我牛的角很长 is quite awkward sounding, How about 这是我牛? sound fine to you too? – Tang Ho Dec 17 '16 at 10:57
  • Thanks for your answer. Unfortunatrly, my Chinese friends constitute a group of one, so I only have access to one point of view, and a linguistically naive one at that. – MrVocabulary Dec 17 '16 at 11:07

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