From the first chapter of 猫城记 by 老舍, we see examples where 的 is used where I would expect to use 地 (to indicate an adverb):




I'm not sure what's going on here. I have some speculations (e.g., maybe it's a historical or geographical difference) but I'm just guessing. I don't think it's a typographical error (I bought the book, and it's the same in the print version).

Question: In 猫城记, why does 老舍 use 的 (instead of 地) for adverbs?

  • Aren't they pronounced differently? De or di?
    – Mig
    Commented Feb 6, 2021 at 19:05
  • @Mig In context they sounds the same, all the three are "de". But when many other people and I mention them together, we usually say "de dì dé". I don't know and it is not formal.
    – T-Pioneer
    Commented Feb 7, 2021 at 13:58
  • A fact: these three prepositions first formally appeared in the articles after the May Fourth Movement in 1919.
    – T-Pioneer
    Commented Feb 7, 2021 at 14:17

3 Answers 3


Actually, you're right, this is a history question rather a grammar one.

Chinese people do NOT differentiate "的得地" intentionally before the 1960s (or even 1980s).
Here is a blog I found “的地得”的历史——《得的篇》(上), saying 老舍 mended his "的地得" in his new publications after 1956.

里面规定:“结构助词包括: 的、地、得、所。它们是定语、状语、补语的标志……”

Another one I found is "的地" could be the same from “的地得”并未通用, suggesting that "的地" could be written as "的" at that time.


So why "老舍 use 的"?

  1. 猫城记 was published in 1933, when "的得地" are not clearly defined at that time.
  2. Even if the book was re-edited and republished, "的、地" could be the same.

Well, those links are not official resources, but that could be "八九不离十".
In my opinion, do not bother grammar mistakes for those classic publications anyway.
Just like people don't learn English grammar by reading Shakespear.


Maybe because they sound very similar, causing many people 的、得、地不分. treat '的' as a variant of 地 the adverb, and 得 the degree particle

Since so many people doing it, even some dictionary accepted '的' as a variant of the adverb '地'

同“得”( de),后面带补语

同“地”( de)。用在状语后,表示状语和中心词之间的修饰关系

Since 的、得、地 all sound very different from each other in Cantonese, we never accepted “的” 同 “得” or “的” 同 “地”

Side note:

The adjective marker 的 in colloquial Cantonese is 嘅. E.g. 強大的 --> 強大嘅

The adverb marker 地 in colloquial Cantonese is 噉. E.g. 用力地 --> 用力噉

The degree particle 得 in colloquial Cantonese is 到. E.g. 想得入了神 -->想到入哂神

With the correspondent words tied to 的、地、得, it is unlikely to use them interchangeably for us


The reason is very clear in other answers. I only want to point out that "解释" in second example was used as a noun instead of a verb. It is both a verb and a noun at the same time. And we can use it as we need.

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