Can someone explain me exactly when I have to use these two words? They are both pronunced "de", but I found some difficulties understanding why should I use 得 (or shouldn‘t) in some senteceses.

地 , to me, seems more like a word used to make another become an adverb, but I‘m not totally sure.

  • You might want to elborate further on your usage of these words - both of them have multiple means depends on the usage. Examples will help.
    – Alex
    Commented Sep 15, 2014 at 17:40

1 Answer 1


Chinese Grammar Info provides an excellent write up on the three distinct de particles. See the site for the full article.

The main points are:

(的) de as the possessor or causing the possessive function:


wǒ de shū

my book


Zhè shì nǐ de shū.

This is your book.

(地) de/di as the ly suffix





Tā hěn kuài de chīfàn.

He eats quickly.

(得) de as a potential complement


zuò de dào

can do


Wǒ zhǐyǒu dài yǎnjìng dehuà cái kàn de qīngchu.

I can only see clearly if I wear my glasses.

UPDATES (per request in comments):

More on 得. The article further states that this version of de relates to two types of complements: potential complements (which indicate that the attached verb has potential to have the action happen) and degree complements (speaks to the degree/amount that a potential verb may happen).

Potential complement


tīng de dǒng

can understand (from listening)

(and conversely)


tīng bu dǒng

can’t understand (from listening)

Degree Complement

Note the basic structure where the verb is followed by a description that includes the degree complements; very well, badly, very tall.

(basic structure)

[verb] 得 [description]

(a few more samples)


Nǐ shuō de fēicháng hǎo.

You said it very well.


Tā zuò dé bu hǎo.

He did it badly.


Tā zhǎng de hěn gāo.

She has grown very tall.

Beyond it's use as a particle, the article states:

得 as dé When 得 is pronounced dé in second tone, it’s a verb meaning “to get” or “to acquire”.

得 as děi When 得 is pronounced děi in third tone, it’s a modal verb meaning “must” or “have to”.

  • 1
    Yes thanks, that‘s very useful! Could you expand a little bit more on the 得 used as a potetial compliment? That‘s the only vague doubt that I still have...
    – Chiara
    Commented Sep 15, 2014 at 19:48

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