I wanted to translate a simple sentence which is "what I fear the most is to be unsuccessful". I check with google translator and realized I made a mistake. The Google translation is 我最害怕的是不成功. I do not understand the role of 的 in the sentence. Can you help me please ?

3 Answers 3


"我最害怕的" here is like a noun clause. It means "what I fear the most". Entire sentence means: What I fear the most is not succeeding (or "unsuccessfulness" but not sure if that is an English word).

As for why it means as such, here is my understanding. Disclaimer: I am not a linguist and I do not work in the education industry.

"的" is the assistive word (particle) that marks an adjective. If not using like this, it could comes as "我最害怕的事情" (the thing/event that I fear the most), omitting "事情" makes it more general, i.e., "what I fear the most" in any scope, not limited to a thing/event.

Another examples: "我怀念的是无话不说" (lyrics of 《我怀念的》, i.e., What I Miss, by Stefanie Sun).


What I fear the most is being unsuccessful. = 我最害怕的事情是不成功。= 我最害怕的是不成功。You can omit the NOUN in case it is trivial.


Here, "的" acts both as a "possessive tune/phrase" and "adjective" maker:

  • 我最害怕的 "是" 不成功. - My most fearful (thing) "is" unsuccessful.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.