I am trying to understand the usage of 到 and 得 when used to emphasize results. Take, for example, the lyrics from "吻别":

  1. In this adjective + 得 + clause construction, can we replace 得 with 到 for the same meaning? So, can we say 冷到讓我無法多愛一天? Would it still have the same meaning?

In another set of lyrics from ”她來聽我的演唱會“, I see the following verb + 得 + clause:

我唱得她心醉 我唱得她心碎

I take that this means "I sang enough to make her enchanted, I sang enough to make her heartbroken"

  1. In this case, can we also replace 得 with 到 to receive the same meaning?
  • 1
    For both cases, the replacement is fine in speaking language, but not in writing. Especially in poems, for which rhyme is more important. The pronunciation of "到"ends in a more stiff sound "ㄠ" compared to more softer "ㄜ" for "得".
    – r13
    Mar 17 at 21:40

Both 得 and 到 can act as [degree/ result complement]


冷(得)讓我無法多愛一天 = 冷(到)讓我無法多愛一天 = cold (to the degree of) I can't love one more day

我唱(得)她心醉 = 我唱(到)她心醉 = I sing (to the degree of) she is enchanted

However, 到 has another function for meaning 'continuously until', which mean 我唱(到)她心醉 can also mean "I sing until she is enchanted" To illustrate this function better, look at the following example:


  1. Beef to be cooked (to the degree of) well done

you cook the beef to the degree of well done, emphasize the degree of the verb

  1. beef to be cooked (until) well done

you continuously cook the beef until it is well done, emphasize the 'continuously until the result is reached' aspect of the verb

If you replace 到 with 得, you will not have the #2 interpretation


I would say that when "到" is used, it sort of puts some emphasis on the verb or the subject before it, while "得" is more neutral.

The first example wouldn't sound much different to native speakers.
But the second one wouldn't work well with both, because if you use 我唱到讓她心碎, it's indirectly implying you sing so well so that her heart broke (sounds a little boastful if you know what I mean...)

Some examples:
Example 1: Both work, but 好吃到 makes the meal sound more delicious than using "得"
這飯好吃得讓我升天: This meal tastes so good which makes me feel like in heaven.
這飯好吃到讓我升天: This meal tastes so good to the point that I feel like I'm in heaven.

Example 2: Both work, but the second emphasizes that it's really hot outside
天氣熱得讓他們不想出門: Weather is hot so that they don't wanna go out.
天氣熱到讓他們不想出門: Weather is so hot to the point that they don't wanna go out.

Example 3: Second one sounds a little like you're boasting while the first one is more neutral
我做飯好吃得讓她想多吃十碗飯: My cooking is good which makes her wanna eat 10 more bowls.
我做飯好吃到讓她想多吃十碗飯: My cooking is so good to the point that she wants to eat 10 more bowls.


1) There is a difference between 冷得 and 冷到. While 到 has the meanings of "to", "up to", "until (a time)", and "arrive"; 得 simply means "obtain" or "permit". It is clear that 到 has the implication of an event related to the change in space, extent, or time, which is lacking from the meanings of 得.

Sometimes the difference is not that noticeable, such as replacing 得 with 到 in the lyric 冷得讓我無法多愛一天, however, let's expand the resulting sentence 冷到"一個程度"讓我無法多愛一天, now we can clearly see the difference - the expanded sentence can't be replaced by change 到 to 得.

For the lyric, I wouldn't try to attach a meaning to 得, as it is rather meaningless, and redundant, as 冷讓我無法多愛一天 is a good matching sentence as well, but for better rhyming and fitting the tune, a word is thus needed. In general conversation, I would say 冷"到"讓我無法"再"多愛一天 is more suitable in expressing one's regret and sadness.

2.) 我唱得她心醉 我唱得她心碎. Rather than word-to-word translation, let me apply the same technique above - expand the lyric to its fill context as it will be in writing.

我唱得"讓她感到"心醉 我唱得"讓她感到"她心碎. In here, 我唱 = my singing, these sentences are general expressions that do not have a sense of time, they describe a timeless event.

In contrast, 我唱到她心醉 我唱到她心碎 is exactly what you have translated, there is the implication of time and a sense of the continuation of the action, so until (直到) is a suitable conjunction to add to the translation.

The lesson here is while confused about the proper/correct meaning of two Chinese sentences, it helps to expand the often shortened sentences to their full context as in writing, and the answer will be much clear, it especially applies to lyrics and modern poems.

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