Consider the following two sentences:

  1. 早晨的太阳为什么是红色的

  2. 中午太阳又变白了

For the first sentence: the second 的 is because 红色 is 区别词 and the first 的 expresses alienable possession (i.e. no close possession).

But in the second sentence: there is no "的" after "中午" as I would expect. Why?

I also found the following sentence: 你还得提高教育质量. In English, I would say "quality of education" and not "quality education". Hence, I would also expect a "的".

Another difficult case is "科学模型" vs "科学的模型".

Can somebody clarify how to use "的" to express "of"?

6 Answers 6


Well, the trick here is not , but the omission behind.

The complete sentences below:

 1. 早晨的太阳为什么是红色的(太阳/样子).
 2. 中午(的时候)太阳又变白了. 

For the rest expression, you can use the definition of "attributive noun" to explain.
科学的模型 correct, but wordy.
Try this, name of student or student name.


  • Btw, it is not always the same that adding a when there is a of (vice versa).
    – Shaw
    Commented Dec 9, 2019 at 22:22



中午的太阳又变白了 is a correct sentence. But, if you put that 的, you'd change the parsing:

[中午的太阳][又变白了] vs [中午][太阳又变白了]

The original sentence uses 中午 adverbially, which is for the effect of contrast: Why the sun in the morning is red, while at noon(when it comes to noon) it becomes white.(I'm curious how come).

中午的太阳又变白了 would reduce that effect dramatically.

So, the question here is not about grammar but the way people express their ideas.

P.S. I might think to add a comma after 中午 would probably be a little bit improvement? Maybe, not everyone would agree with that.


中午, 太阳又变白了


As for the 太阳 part, dan already has a good explanation. I am going answer the other questions you asked.

教育质量 and 教育的质量 are both correct and mean the same thing. Note that the counterpart of 教育质量 in English without "of" should be "education quality" but not "quality education". I am not sure whether "education quality" is colloquial in English but this should help you understand why we can omit the 的.

The case with 科学模型 is slightly different. 科学模型 means a model used in science. However, 科学的 sometimes does not mean "relating to science". Instead, it means "correct in view of scientific principles". Therefore, if you say 科学的模型,you mean that you believe this model is correct based on your knowledge in science. On the other hand, if you say 这个模型不科学, you mean you think the model is wrong or flawed according to scientific principles.

But this is a rather rare example and does not apply to 数学模型,物理模型,化学模型, etc. For these adding 的 will be the same (although wordy).

  • Using “education quality” to mean “quality of education” seems like normal English to me, i.e. not colloquial.
    – Becky 李蓓
    Commented Dec 10, 2019 at 12:16

Basically, when 的 is used after a noun or pronoun it represents the genitive, possessive case: 我的 = my, 你的 = your, 他的 = his. The genitive case is always an adjective. 的 represents 's. That said, Chinese often omits 的:红色女装

"The primary sense [of 'of'] in Old English still was "away," but it shifted in Middle English with use of the word to translate Latin de, ex, and especially Old French de, which had come to be the substitute for the genitive case. "Of shares with another word of the same length, as, the evil glory of being accessory to more crimes against grammar than any other." [Fowler]"

(The) sun is red
(The) early morning's sun is red
(The) early morning's sun why is red

(Because the atmosphere is an aerosol, it filters out blue. Early morning the sunlight travels through a lot more atmosphere, because it is coming from the side, so to speak.)

argument is flawed.
Your argument is flawed
Your argument its base is flawed
Your argument its base fundamentally is flawed


The sun of morning is (a) red (one).

中午(的)太阳 又变成了 白(色)
中午(的)太阳 又变成 白(色) 了。
While the sun of noon change to (a) white (one).

中午(的)太阳 又变 了。
While the sun of noon change white.


中午太阳又变白了 == 中午“的”太阳又变白“的”了

Here both “的” are omitted.

per your example of 教育质量 (quality of education), is short for 教育"的"质量 as 教育 is noun.

科学 can mean science (noun), or a short form of 科学的 scientific (adj). here in "科学模型", 科学 is the latter, hence 的 is omitted.

another similar example is 数学模型 == 数学的模型 == mathematical model

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