Is there 的, 地 and 得 confusion among native speakers as well or am I missing some subtleties of the language?

  • 2
    Yes, primary schoolchildren in China learn their difference in class, and the misuse still happens often. In fact, there are situations where you can't really draw a distinction from a linguistic perspective (I can't think of an example right at the moment -- but trust me, there are such instances.) So nowadays, if I remember correctly, according to the latest orthographic standard of the government, you are allowed to use 的 in all circumstances (this shouldn't be regarded as wrong) but it is discouraged in real life.
    – user58955
    Feb 10, 2014 at 23:40
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    In your example, it should be 跑得很快. The other two are just the result from the pinyin input method with lazy users who are not bothered to correct the typos
    – user58955
    Feb 10, 2014 at 23:42
  • supposedly a lot of absurd or incorrect usage results from lazy typists...
    – user3410
    Feb 11, 2014 at 3:42

3 Answers 3


The correct word to use in this context is indeed 得; however, because all three of these characters have the same pronunciation in Mandarin (de), they are very often confused by native speakers. This is similar to how some English speakers often confuse "there", "their", and "they're".

For more information on the grammatical differences among the three, refer to this previous question: 的-地-得, when do you use which?

[As an aside, while these three characters have the same pronunciation in Mandarin, they differ in other Chinese varieties such as Cantonese (的 dik、地 dei、得 dak), so this mistake does not occur as often with speakers of those topolects and replacing one with the other would end up sounding obviously wrong.]

  • As a chinese, I almost ignore such differences coz they sound same.
    – Sam Liao
    Feb 11, 2014 at 2:19
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    @arsane But as a Chinese, too, I always pay attention to the correct use of "的", "地", and "得".
    – Paul Allen
    Feb 11, 2014 at 15:27
  • @Claw Sorry for the confusion but it is rather mazing for first grader students to mix them up. Even some grown ups can't tell the difference.
    – Xephon
    Feb 12, 2014 at 17:21
  • @arsane I would suggest to pay attention to the usage as Paul did. It is a matter of respect of the concreteness of the language itself IMO.
    – Xephon
    Feb 12, 2014 at 17:23

This is a question which is hard to explain for whom is not a linguistic. But also it's one key point to find out whether one is well educated in Chinese.

Basically, I can use it well, but like I've said, hard for me to explain. according to my understanding, the rules are like below.

  1. verb + 得 + adjective
  2. adjective + 地 + verb
  3. noun + 的 forms a adjective. And this can be only used to modify a noun, like 红的 (adjective) + 苹果(noun).

So, for your examples, 跑(verb) + 得 + 很快(adjective) is correct, all the others are incorrect. Furthermore, 很快(adjective) + 地 + 跑(verb) expresses the same meaning as 跑得很快.

Hope this helps.

  • +1 for this answer Feb 11, 2014 at 15:18

Seriously? I think 得 (adverb) is the only correct one. 的 is possesive (我的, 你的, 他的) and... 地 is just wrong. I think a typo of 的 which can be pronounced the same as 地.

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