When do we use each of the following cases? Is there even a difference between them?

  • suggestion: feed each as well as "Chinese songs" to jukuu: may conclude, usual word for Chinese song(s) is 中国歌曲,中国乐曲,中文歌曲. 中国歌:(only 2 examples) 外国人唱中国歌,中国歌风大变 (great change in style of Chinese songs)。中国之歌:1 example: 杜奏响了中国胜利之歌,Du set the tone for China's success。中国的歌: none. Conclude 中国歌 is possible for Chinese song, 中国之歌 used figuratively, 中国的歌 uncommon
    – user6065
    Sep 3, 2017 at 17:55
  • 中国之歌 sounds like the name of a song. But the other two do not.
    – fefe
    Sep 3, 2017 at 23:54
  • 中国歌/中国的歌 - songs belonging to the country of China. 中文歌 songs written in Chinese. 中国之歌 is often used to extol the virtues of China's spirit, sometimes with an attributive word in the middle. Like the example in the above comment, 中国胜利之歌, 中国繁荣富强之歌, and etc.
    – dan
    Sep 4, 2017 at 4:12

4 Answers 4

  • 中国歌 means "China song" or "Chinese song"; 中国 (China) is an adjectival noun-- the song is either about China or it is in the Chinese language.

  • 中国之歌 means "song of China"; 之 is a (relative or true) possessive determiner-- The song is either about China or China actually possesses the song.

  • 中国的歌 means "China's song"; 的 is a (true) possessive determiner-- China actually possesses the song.

Difference between true possessive and relative possessive:

之 in 将死之人 is a relative possessive determiner. 将死 is not a noun, therefore it can't possess the object 人. 之 only indicates 人 belong to the state of 将死.

If 中国 in 中国之歌 is the subject noun, then 之 would indicate the song belong to China--it is China's song.

If 中国 in 中国之歌 is an adjectival noun, then 之 would indicate the song is about China.

  • Just to clarify: so 中国之歌 can mean either 中国歌 or 中国的歌?
    – Kyoma
    Sep 4, 2017 at 0:07
  • If you sing a song about China, it can be called 中国歌 or 中国之歌 with 中国 as an adjectival noun ; If a song is owned by China, then it can be called either 中国的歌 or 中国之歌 with 中国 as the subject noun.
    – Tang Ho
    Sep 4, 2017 at 0:17

Besides the lexical differences identified by others, in daily circumstances, typically 中国歌 means a song published from China in Chinese by Chinese people with China style.

中国之歌 means the song is about 中国.

We are the Champions is a 冠军之歌

Sweet Home Alabama could be a 阿拉巴马之歌

中国的歌 means from China

关于什么什么的歌 equal to 什么什么之歌

冠军之歌 = 关于冠军的歌


中国的歌 is almost never used it sounds like 中国 is the author or singer of the song. Like usually we say 周杰伦的歌 Jay's song.

中国歌 Emphasize on the cultural nationality of the song. It differs from 新加坡歌 Singapore song which might also be in Chinese language

中国之歌 Means the song can represent China. It is a high honor to say so about a song. For example 长江之歌 is not A random song about 长江. It is THE song you are going to think about whenever you mention 长江 in a conversation.

The mostly used expression is actually 中文歌 or 华语流行歌(Chinese pop song)to mention the language instead of the nationality.


中国歌 means China Song
Both 中国之歌 and 中国的歌 means song of china but the latter more like China's song rather than song of china.

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