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Nǐ jiā yǒu jǐ kǒu rén?

Why "Nǐ" and not " Nǐde"? Since Nǐde is possessive.

4 Answers 4

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There's a few reasons for omitting "de" 的. In this case, the "de" is omitted because of close possession:

Normally possession is expressed using the particle 的 (de). However, you can omit 的 (de) in these cases:

  • A close personal relationship is involved (family, close friends, boyfriends or girlfriends)
  • An institutional or organizational relationship is involved (school, work)

In these cases 的 (de) should be omitted. It doesn't sound as natural if you leave it in.

Hence we have:

你家有几口人?
Nǐ jiā yǒu jǐ kǒu rén?

And also 你太太 (Nǐ tàitài) = "your wife", 你儿子 (Nǐ érzi) = "your son", and so on.

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The difference is shown below.

你家有幾口人 = How many people are there in your household?

你的家有幾口人 = How many people are there in your's household?

Both are correct, but the former is more widely used.

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Oral language follows a lot of conventions. We need to understand that people do not speak according to fixed grammars. These grammars and conventions are more or less summarized from daily conversations.

My understanding is that such omissions are more relevant to the balance of the sentence components' lengths, not the meaning. I.e., these omissions and conventions exist to make the sentences themselves sound/look more balanced.

While trying to draw conclusions from existing examples is good, there are always corner cases you cannot cover. My suggestion is to accept that these things exist and calibrate your spoken language with native speaker as you get along.

For example,

  • 你家有几口人 (very casual and oral): Correct.
  • 你的家有几口人: Incorrect.
  • 你家里有几口人: Correct.
  • 你的家里有几口人 (relatively complete and formal sentence): Also correct.

Also,

妈/爸 妈妈/爸爸 狗/猫 电脑/桌子
Common Common Uncommon Common
你的 Uncommon Common Common Common
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In the case of a relationship of the type "mutual belonging", "de" is not required.

For example:

  1. Family relationship: wǒ fùqīn,wǒ mǔqīn,wǒ gēge (my father, my mother, my brother) (i.e. I am also my father's son, my brother's brother).
  2. Professional relationship: wǒ tóngshì,wǒ shàngsi,wǒ xiàshǔ (my colleague, my superior, my subordinate) (i.e. I am my colleague's colleague, my superior's subordinate, my subordinate's superior).
  3. Community relationship: wǒ jiā,wǒ xuéxiào,wǒ gōngsī (my home, my school, my company (i.e. I belong to my home, to my school, to my company).

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