My understanding of 的-地-得 is the same as what's here: 的-地-得, when do you use which? -- which is summarised as: “地” usually appears before the verb while “得” appears after the verb.

However, I found a sentence which I found very curious in its structure, it doesn't follow these rules. I couldn't find an explanation as to why. The sentence is as follows:


In 多得做不完, “得” doesn't follow a verb. Is this an uncommon usage, or is this simply incorrect usage?

Can anybody shed some light on this?

3 Answers 3


It is a correct, and common usage.

得 can be also used after an adj to complement its degree/level, similar as the case following a verb. Such as:


So the usage of 得 should be verb/adj + 得 + complement.

reference here:http://wenku.baidu.com/view/3ce1a977a417866fb84a8eca.html

  • Thank you very much :) Is this "after an adjective" type of usage very common, do you know?
    – Ming
    Apr 29, 2014 at 3:18
  • @Ming AFAIK, yes, It's a common usage.
    – user4072
    Apr 29, 2014 at 3:21
  • I like the completeness of 得 usage in @Stan's answer, however your answer is very straight-forward and answers the questions I raised exactly. Thank you :)
    – Ming
    Apr 30, 2014 at 1:44

Just share a source on zdic.net. As an auxiliary word, 得 generally has three functions. And in the question, it is case 3.

得 as an auxiliary word

得 de

  1. 用在动词后面,表示能够或可以。如:我们可粗心不得。她能去我为什么去不得。

    After a verb, means "be able to", "can".

    "我们可粗心不得" == "我们可 不得(能) 粗心" We can't (shouldn't) be careless.

    "她能去,我为什么去不得" == "她能去,我为什么不能去" She can go, why can't I?

  2. 用在动词和补语中间,表示可能。如:我拿得动。那办得到。

    Between a verb and a complement, means "possible to do", "can".

    "我拿得动" I can bring it.

    "那办得到" That can be done.

  3. 用在动词或形容词后面,连接表示程度或结果的补语。如:我冷得打哆嗦。我笑得肚子痛。

    After a verb or an adjective, links a complement indicating "degree/extent" or "result".

    "我冷得打哆嗦" (Literally) I feel cold so that I am trembling.

    "我笑得肚子痛" I'm laughing myself to stomachache. (= die laughing)

  • Thanks, I like the 冷 example in case 3! I'm getting off-topic from my original question, but ... is the first case typically in the negative format 不得? Both examples are negative, wondering if it would get used like that in a positive sense (like .. 我为什么去得?) or does that just turn into the děi pronunciation and positioning e.g. 我得去上班 (or following the original question, 我为什么得去?)
    – Ming
    Apr 29, 2014 at 4:00
  • 1. Yes, you can use it in a positive sense like "A says: B能去,我为什么去不得。 B replies: 我为什么去得, 是因为我有这个资格!" 2. děi isn't labeled as "助词" but "动词" in Chinese, so it doesn't belong to case 1/2/3 above. It functions like the auxiliary verb must/need in English.
    – Stan
    Apr 29, 2014 at 4:24
  • Note the different meaning of your examples. 我得去上班 I have to go to work. 我为什么得去? Why do I have to go there?
    – Stan
    Apr 29, 2014 at 4:38

Put it in simple way, 得 works as a adverb, or some call it particle word that doesn't have a meaning by itself in Chinese. A adverb (or particle word) is to modify verbs, adjectives or other adverbs.

So the possible usages of 得 should be

verb + 得 + complement. adj + 得 + complement. adv + 得 + complement.

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