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Expressing "must" with "dei"

Learning how to use 得 (děi) to mean "must" must be done by those wishing to master Chinese!

Structure

Normally when you see 得 it's a particle and is pronounced "de." However, it can also be an auxiliary verb. In this case it's pronounced děi and means "must."

Subj. + 得 + [Verb-Phrase]

Examples

  • 我们 走 了 。Wǒmen děi zǒu le.We have to leave.
  • 时间 不 早 了,我 回家 了。Shíjiān bù zǎo le, wǒ děi huíjiā le.It's getting late. I have to go home.
  • 他 是 你 弟弟 ,你 帮 他 。Tā shì nǐ dìdi, nǐ de bāng tā.He is your younger brother. You must help him.
  • 不 好意思 ,你 马上 离开 。Bù hǎoyìsi, nǐ děi mǎshàng líkāi.Sorry, you have to get out of here right now.
  • 在 学校 就 听 老师 的 话 。Zài xuéxiào jiù děi tīng lǎoshī de huà.You have to listen to the teacher at school.
  • 这个 方法 不行,你 想 别的 方法。 Zhège fāngfǎ bùxíng, nǐ děi biéde fāngfǎ .This way doesn't work. You must think of other ways.
  • 是 你 的 错 ,你 道歉 。Shì nǐ de cuò, nǐ děi dàoqiàn.It's your fault. You must apologize.
  • 他 没有 经验 ,你 教教 他 。Tā méiyǒu jīngyàn, nǐ děi jiāojiao tā.He doesn't have experience. You must teach him.
  • 明天 去 面试 ,你 穿 得 正式 一点 。Míngtiān qù miànshì, nǐ děi chuān de zhèngshì yīdiǎn.You must wear something more formal for tomorrow's job interview.
  • 你 病 得 太 厉害 了,去 看 医生。Nǐ bìng de tài lìhai le, děi qù kàn yīshēng.You are badly ill. You must go see a doctor.

See also

Sources and further reading

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