Expressing close possession without "de"

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Expressing possession in Chinese is accomplished with the particle (de). But sometimes when certain (especially close) relationships are involved, it's more natural to drop the 的 (de).


Pronoun + Noun

Normally possession is expressed using the particle 的 (de). However, you can omit 的 (de) in these cases:

  • A close personal relationship is involved (family, close friends, boyfriends or girlfriends)
  • An institutional or organizational relationship is involved (school, work)

In these cases 的 (de) should be omitted. It doesn't sound as natural if you leave it in.


  • 我 家 很 大。Wǒ jiā hěn dà.My house is very big.
  • 你 哥哥 很 高 。 Nǐ gēge hěn gāo.Your big brother is very tall.
  • 这 是 我 女朋友Zhè shì wǒ nǚpéngyou.This is my girlfriend.
  • 她 妈妈 很 漂亮。Tā māma hěn piàoliang.Her mom is very pretty.
  • 我们 学校 很 大 。Wǒmen xuéxiào hěn dà.Our school is big.
  • 他们 公司 在 北京。Tāmen gōngsī zài Běijīng.Their company is in Bejing.
  • 你 男朋友 很 帅。Nǐ nánpéngyou hěn shuài.Your boyfriend is very handsome.
  • 他 儿子 很 有名。Tā érzi hěn yǒumíng.His son is really famous.
  • 我 女儿 会 说 英语。Wǒ nǚ'ér huì shuō Yīngyǔ.My daughter can speak English.
  • 他 爸爸我们 公司 的 老板。Tā bàba shì wǒmen gōngsī de lǎobǎn.His dad is the boss of our company.

If 的 (de) was used in the above examples, it would create an unnatural sense of distance between the two.

See also

Sources and further reading