I am trying to understand the differences between the three (de) in Chinese.


let me answer the question you asked:
Firstly, I assume you are an English speaker.
的,地 and 得 are three very basic linking words in Chinese.

'的' is used follows attributes which are the adjectives you called.
For instance:
In English: She is a lovely girl.
In Chinese: 她 是 一位 漂亮的 女孩。
So, you can notice that 'lovely' substituted by '漂亮的' in Chinese.

'地' is used follows attributes as adverbs.
For instance:
In English: He drives carefully.
In Chinese:他 小心地 开车。 The 'carefully' is replaced by '小心地'

'得' often express the meaning of degree and possibility. It is very complex to use and even the native speaker can make a fault.

Considering you are a learner, I recommend you to memorize this structure:
verb + 得 + a sentence
in the structure above, 得 is very similar to 'so that'
For instance:
English:I'm so tired that I can't walk anymore.
Chinese: 我 累得 走不动路了
It linked the relationship between 'can't walk anymore' and 'tired'.

It can also express the possibility:
English:The floor needs mopping.
Chinese:地板 得 拖了
In another word, 得 can replace 'need' and this a very idiomatic Chinese phraseology. I highly recommend you to replace '需要' terms of '得' in oral Chinese.

If you keep any questions, just ask. I'm very glad to help you.

  • 谢谢你!I am actually Spanish, but love languages. What about the use of 的 as possesive article? How does that work? Jul 12 '19 at 11:21
  • Sorry man, I'm not a Chinese teacher and do not sure what a possesive article is. Give me some examples so that I can answer you better : )
    – Fanxu Meng
    Jul 12 '19 at 11:39
  • It makes reference to ownership, like 爸爸的钱 (dad's money) Jul 12 '19 at 12:07
  • Got you, It can't be more simple to answer. You can definitely consider the " 's " as '的' added after a noun as the possessive article and never make fault. : )
    – Fanxu Meng
    Jul 12 '19 at 12:26
  • It also can be used as a nominal possessive pronoun, such as in '这些钱是我爸爸的' and '这些东西是他的', those equal to 'of my dad' and 'his'.
    – Fanxu Meng
    Jul 12 '19 at 12:51

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