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Original sentence:

時代的巨輪不停的滾動

But I thought it also makes sense 地,得:

  1. 時代的巨輪不停 滾動

  2. 時代的巨輪不停 滾動

(1) makes sense because 地 is before the verb/action 滾動. (2) I'm not sure about, but I have seen lots of sentences with 不停得...the state of 不停 is being described as non-stop rolling in this case? I suppose this kind of makes sense but sounds very weird.

So clearly I am deeply confused about the differences and usages of 得,的,地. At this point I don't even know what 的 means in the original sentence.

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  • 不停的滾動 = continuous rolling; 不停地滾動 = rolling continuously.
    – r13
    Oct 19, 2023 at 16:49

5 Answers 5

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Unofficially(popular usage), the adjective marker 的 can act as the adverb marker 地

People can use 的 when they should use 地, but they cannot use 地 when it should be 的

If we use "的" as an adjective marker in "時代的巨輪不停的滾動" then strictly speaking, "滾動" has to be a noun, and the sentence would mean: "The unstopped (adj) rolling(n) of the giant wheel of time"

If we use "的" as an adverb marker in "時代的巨輪不停的滾動" then "滾動" would be a verb, and the sentence would mean: "the giant wheel of time unstoppably (adv) rolling(v)"

Using 的 as 地 is wrong, but too many people are doing it, there is no way to correct every instance, therefore, this practice is kind of universally accepted by the public

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  • Thanks for your response. Why is 時代的巨輪不停得滾動 wrong? Oct 19, 2023 at 2:19
  • it means: "the giant wheel of time not stopping to the point of rolling". That doesn't make any sense
    – Tang Ho
    Oct 19, 2023 at 2:46
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From Chinese Grammar wiki

的 (de), most often used for modifying nouns
得 (de), most often used with complements
地 (de), most often used with adverbial phrases

So here, it should be 地.


Nowadays, in casual writing, a lot of writers would use them randomly. So you may see a lot of misused cases on the web. However, they are still strictly distinguished in serious publications. E.g, a responsible publisher in a publishing house would fix all the misuses made by a writer before a book is published.

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You don't need to use any: 時代的巨輪不停滾動

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  • Yes, but the problem for learners is when and where it could be left out. It is difficult to explain why because for people who grew up with the language, it just "feels" either right or wrong without knowing or bothering with any grammatical imperatives. Another word is 了 without which many learners would be hard pressed to compose a 75 word essay. Here is a long song which has no 了 in it at all. It is also a good song for learners to up their game beyond a basic level Mandarin. youtu.be/fMavVoHT9tM?si=ORbCXy-kcM60HQm Oct 20, 2023 at 1:43
  • That's true. Just like English, the only way to a better understanding of the language is to read, read, and read. Native speakers have the "feel" as the proper ways of using the language have submerged to the unconsciousness. Thus, they do not need to actively think about how to use the language properly. Oct 20, 2023 at 3:49
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I agree with Mr Fat Penguin, use 時代的巨輪不停滾動

时代: the times
不停: describes turning, 滾動
turning: English words ending in -ing are either nouns, gerunds or adjectives, gerundives. In this case, turning is a descriptive phrase for wheel.
不停滾動: describes the wheel

時代的巨輪不停滾動.
The giant wheel of the times never stops turning.

沈家煊 is a well known Chinese linguist. At the beginning of his book 名词河东词 he says he will consistently use 的, not 地. He does not think Chinese must be twisted to conform with the precepts and ideas found in Western Grammar. The theme of his book is exactly that: Chinese is not grammatically the same as English.

Using 的 instead of 地 is neither "unofficial", whatever that means, nor colloquial.

Also, in the spoken language, you will never hear the difference between 的,地, or 得!

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  • I agree with 沈家煊 completely on this. Trying to impose English grammar is silly because Chinese and English (and other phonographic languages) are fundamentally different. Of course there are similarities, but the Chinese grammar ought to be distilled from a vast volume of Chinese works, especially classic Chinese works. Oct 20, 2023 at 3:53
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严格地说:時代的巨輪不停的滾動,这是一个错误的表达。应该是:時代的巨輪不停地滾動

地 (de), most often used with adverbial phrases

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