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Expressing "must" with "dei"

Learning how to use 得 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 + Obj.

Examples

  • 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.
  • 你 病 得 太 严重 了,去 看 医生。Nǐ bìng de tài yánzhòng le, děi qù kàn yīshēng.You are badly ill. You need to go see a doctor.
  • 朋友们 都 在 等,我们 走 了。Péngyǒumen dōu zài děng, wǒmen děi zǒu le.Our friends are waiting, we need to go.
  • 这个 方法 不行,你 换 个 方法。 Zhège fāngfǎ bùxíng, nǐ děi huàn gè fāngfǎ .This way doesn't work. You need to find another way.
  • 我 没带 钥匙 ,你 回来 帮我 开门。 Wǒ méi dài yàoshi, nǐ děi huílái bāng wǒ kāimén.I forgot my keys. You need to come back to help me open the door.

See also

Sources and further reading

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