Im having trouble wrapping my brain around why the characters "有的" are chose to represent the idea of "a smaller amount of a larger group" or more directly in english: the word "some".

On their own, I have learned that "有" means: "to have" or "to exist", and the character "的" means: the possessive particle similar to "'s" in english.

I cant figure out exactly how to make sense of those two meanings to come up with the word "some" in a logical way. So far I've been told that "it's just how the words exist and we just accept it, and don't think about it" but that really bothers me. There must be a logical reason behind why its that specific combination of those two specific characters to convey that one specific meaning.

The best way that I've come to think of it is "Of the existence", but that bothers me because that would be backwards from the characters.


2 Answers 2


If you take an English sentence like:

There are people who believe the earth is flat.

We can see a similar phenomenon to that in Chinese. The phrasing of there are tells us that it is not everybody who believes the earth is flat but that some people hold this conviction.

Likewise, 有的 plays a similar role. You already know that 有 expresses something akin to, "have" or "has." If you treat 有的 like "there are" from the example sentence above it is easy to see how the language works similarly to English.


Following a verb with 的 is known as nominalization. If you take the verb 喝 (to drink) for example, typically you'd put the subject before the verb and the object after. For example, 我喝牛奶 (I drink milk). Nominalization requires that either the subject or the object be missing, in such a scenario you would combine the clause with 的 to represent the missing piece of the puzzle.

For example, 我喝 is missing an object, so 我喝的 means "[I drink]'s thing" or "the thing that I drink". 喝牛奶 is missing a subject so 喝牛奶的 means "[drinks milk]'s person" or "the person that drinks milk".

This new phrase can either be used as a standalone noun or attached to another noun to be used as an adjective. For example, 我想喝的 ("I want [something that someone would drink]" or more concisely "I want something to drink"), and 他是喝牛奶的人 (“He is someone that drinks milk" or simply "He drinks milk").

This works with most verbs that come to mind:

吃的 = Something that someone would eat (food)
妈妈准备了一点吃的。= Mom prepared a bit of food

他说的 = the thing that he said
我不能把他说的告诉你。 lit. = I'm unable to take the thing that he said and tell them to you. (I cannot tell you what he said)

In the same way that 我喝的 literally means "[I drink]'s thing", 有的 means "[exist]'s thing". So 我看有的狗 literally means "I see dog(s) that exist" or put more clearly "I see some dog(s)"

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