Why is 之 used in this sentence?


Cant it just as easily be substituted with 的?

3 Answers 3


之 and 的 are essentially synonyms for different contexts.

之 is mostly used in set phrases, idioms, proverbs, poems, etc. (Also math with percents and such: 百分**百 100 points out of 100. )

的 is more fit for colloquial contexts.

Since 忍耐是幸福之门的一把钥匙 "Patience is the key to the door of happiness" is a phrase, it is fit to use 之.

  • For context, in earlier periods of the language "之" was the only way to say "的" so in the modern language 之 has a more formal or poetic usage. It's like how "thou" in English has a special connotation that is slightly different from how it was actually used in Middle English
    – HAL
    Nov 14, 2013 at 18:56

Another reason is to avoid using the same word again and again in the sentence. To make it easier to read and understand, in sentences where you get related 的, this adds variety.

For instance:


is easier to understand than:

  • also a good point!
    – user3871
    Nov 13, 2013 at 16:30

usually, you may translate x之y to "y of x". Not applicable in ancient Chinese.

  • 1
    Could you please elaborate on why it is not applicable on ancient Chinese, and give an example? Nov 15, 2013 at 4:48
  • 1
    This is only part of an answer. Please improve your answer by providing more information. Low quality answers may be removed.
    – going
    Nov 19, 2013 at 23:59
  • in ancient Chinese, 之 has multiple meanings. can be a pronoun, it, for example. Nov 27, 2013 at 15:06

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