Reading through the text as below. The zhi below is used to modify 路 of 人生? (way/road/path of life)? what exactly 之 in the two places?


Dictionary meaning:

之: marks preceding phrase as modifier of following phrase; it, him her, them; go to

Google translation: Everyone has their own path in life, and only those who grasp the time, work hard, and are not afraid of hardships can take this path well. To follow the road of life, we must first know how to cherish time.

2 Answers 2


之: marks preceding phrase as modifier of following phrase; it, him her, them; go to

This function of 之 is different from the one in your quoted text.

之 in [Verb + 之] functions the same as a pronoun

Example: "逆我者,殺(之)" = "the ones who against me, kill (them)"

In this sentence, the verb 殺 precedes 之, therefore, 之 functions as the pronoun of the noun 逆我者

要走好人生之路 = need to properly walk life's road

之 in [n + 之 + n] functions the same as [n + 的 +n]. It is used between two noun phrases to show possession or relation

Example:人生之路 = 人生的路 = "life's road" or "the road of life"

In this example, 之 is placed between two noun phrases '人生(life)' and '道路(road)' to connect them. Indicates 人生 possess 道路 (similar to [ 's ] in English)

之 in this role is the literary (classical) counterpart of 的.

Saying 人生之路 instead of 人生的道路 make it sound more literary (classical) than colloquial. Modern Chinese is the mix of colloquial and literary (classical) terms and sometimes we want to sound more literary

Notice: the noun after 之 is usually a single character word


Another way to see the function of 之 is 之[4] [used as a dummy pronoun for emphasis], which would make functioning like a verb particle

Example: "逆我者,殺()" = " kill (!), the ones who against me"

  • IMO, 逆我者,殺之 (文言文) = 逆我者,殺了 (白話文)ㄡ.
    – r13
    Apr 19, 2021 at 16:38
  • @r13t See my edit at the bottom. "It is dummy pronoun for emphasis" it is something between a pronoun and a verb particle
    – Tang Ho
    Apr 19, 2021 at 19:07
  • Thanks for the update. On this sentence: Example: "逆我者,殺(之)" = "the ones who against me, kill (them)", I think you were correctly noted later: "Notice: the noun after 之 is usually a single character word", so "them" is questionable in here. Actually, by modern speaking, we will say this way: 任何反對我的人, 殺了.
    – r13
    Apr 19, 2021 at 20:19
  • 1
    Yes, you can think that way. But you can also interpret 他 in here as referring to the "enemy", which is singular. Agreed, adding 們 eliminates the ambiguity between singular and plural forms. That's part of the reason behind the push for 白話文, which essentially made the sentences much longer than the ancient 文言文, a trade-off for the Chinese language.
    – r13
    Apr 19, 2021 at 21:25
  • 1
    @user27485 持(之)以恒 = to maintain (it) with a constant effort. 之 here is either a pronoun for the unmentioned object or a dummy pronoun that emphasizes the verb 持
    – Tang Ho
    Apr 20, 2021 at 3:35

之 was chosen to avoid repeating 的: “每个人都有自己的人生的路,so if you understand 的, you understand 之。

You can often leave out 之 、的:那是人生中(的)一个标记,人生路上的里程碑。

Everyone has their own path in life,
you just need to seize the (right) moment,
(and) strive diligently,
only people who are unafraid of hardships can walk this path
If you want to travel well your path in life
first you must know the value (of the right) moment.

  • Is there any meaningful difference between 人生之路 & 人生路? Apr 20, 2021 at 3:19
  • 1
    Although 人生之路 is literary, we still use it colloquially in day-to-day speech; 人生路 is classical poetic style. You might hear it in poems or song lyrics
    – Tang Ho
    Apr 20, 2021 at 10:18
  • Can you explain what is literary, please? I am confused with it. Oct 2, 2021 at 0:59

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