4

Sometimes you can omit the 的 from possessives. Some examples:

  • 我的太太 → 我太太

  • 他的名字 → 他名字

Sometimes you can not:

  • 我口 to mean "my mouth" is wrong apparently
  • 马克自行车 to mean "Mark's bicycle" is wrong apparently

There also are cases I'm unsure about

  • 中国(的)女孩
  • 我儿子(的)巧克力

So when can we omit it and when can we not?

4
  • 1
    他名字 is wrong. 中国女孩 is correct. 我儿子巧克力 is wrong.
    – fefe
    Nov 21 '18 at 10:27
  • 1
    also,who would say *我的口? (for human body part), see dictionaries, 口 does occur in compounds involving human mouth, e.g. 彻底刷牙有助于口气清新, but for mouth itself most users are only familiar with 嘴, 他的嘴微微张开,似乎是要开始尖叫.她用手捂着嘴,他满嘴都是豌豆 (iciba),(of course 口 has many other meanings)
    – user6065
    Nov 21 '18 at 12:56
  • 2 human 口 in a row: 广泛流传; 口口相传, 口 may be used for animals, e.g. Straight from the horse’s mouth,字面上直接翻譯是,直接從馬的口中出來,嘴 also used for animals; 狼嘴, 狼口,狼之口, 老虎嘴 ,老虎口(place name), re spiders, Wiki 蜘蛛 article has 蜘蛛的口器 (iciba:口器 mouthparts (of an "insect"),as well as 嘴: 用嘴边的附属肢磨碎食物
    – user6065
    Nov 21 '18 at 13:56
  • comments #1,2 seem to mistakenly make a distinction between human and animal mouth (apparently completely uncharacteristic of Chinese), note that example in comment #2 (for horse's mouth) has 口中 (从马的口来的 is also possible)(straight from the horse\'s mouth),which in the literal meaning is possible for people's mouths, cf. iciba: 垂涎让口水从口中流出, it would seem that in present day Chinese a certain horse's mouth by itself (without prepositions etc.) would also be 某马的嘴 and not 某马的口
    – user6065
    Nov 21 '18 at 20:56
6

From my answer to this question: Why no 的 in this sentence?

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 我的車 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 这是我的太太; 他是我的女儿; 你的国家; 你的公司 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)

我口 to mean "my mouth" is wrong apparently

Because you own your mouth, therefore 的 is a true possessive and cannot be omitted

中国(的)女孩

"中国的女孩" means 'China's girls' (the girls belong to China, therefore, 的 here is a true possessive and has to be kept)

"中国女孩" means 'Chinese girl' (中国 here is an adjective 'Chinese')

If you omit '的' in "中国的女孩", the meaning would change

我儿子(的)巧克力

我儿子 owns the 巧克力, therefore, you cannot omit 的 and write 我儿子巧克力

~

More Examples from my answer to the linked post:

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

You don't own your mother, but your mother own the house

~

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 own the cow and the cow own the horns

10
  • So you can't say, 我脑都炸了? (My brain is fried)
    – OmarL
    Dec 4 '18 at 9:30
  • 1
    you can say that, "[我 = topic] + [脑都炸了 = comment]" . It is same as "[那人] + [脑都炸了] " or "[我 ] + [人都吃] ; But you can't say "他(subject)炸了(verb)我脑(object)"
    – Tang Ho
    Dec 4 '18 at 10:45
  • 1
    @MuchAppreciated25 You can use 的 for something you physically own or someone you own in name only. You don't actually own your name physically, because you cannot give it away or cut it off. Therefore, you can omit '的' in '你的中文名字是什麽?' and say '你中文名字是什麽. If you physically own something that you can dispose of, you would possessive need 的, E.g. 我的眼睛,耳朵,嘴巴,鼻子 (you only need 的 once when describe a list of objects).
    – Tang Ho
    May 13 '20 at 20:28
  • 1
    Exception-- It is correct to say "我的眼睛在欺骗我" (my eyes are deceiving me) because you can give your eyes away, but it is also correct to say "我眼睛在欺骗我", in which, 我眼睛 is referring to 'eyesight' and you cannot give your 'eyesight to somebody, therefore, 眼睛 (eyesight) here is treated as relative possessive object
    – Tang Ho
    May 13 '20 at 20:34
  • 1
    I meant something you own in name only, like 聲譽. 智慧 you can't give your 'reputation or wisdom to someone else
    – Tang Ho
    May 13 '20 at 23:19

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.