Expressing possession with "de"

In Chinese, possession is marked with the particle 的 (de), placed after the "owner" noun or noun phrase. This particle works in a similar way to apostrophe-"s" in English, but is used much more broadly in Chinese. This article highlights one of its simplest and most common usages.


Noun 1 + 的 + Noun 2

This means "Noun 1's Noun 2" (where Noun 2 belongs to Noun 1).

The structure is super simple. It will take a bit of time before you realize how truly universal this pattern is. It doesn't matter whether the "Noun 1" is a person, place, or thing, or even if it's a pronoun (like "he," "she," or "it"). The structure stays consistent.


  • 老师 de lǎoshīmy teacher
  • 手机 de shǒujī your cell phone
  • 我们 wǒmen de qiánour money
  • 他们 东西 tāmen de dōngxitheir stuff
  • 爸爸 bàba de chē dad's car
  • 你们 nǐmen de càiyour food
  • 北京 空气 Běijīng de kōngqì Beijing's air
  • 公司 老板gōngsī de lǎobǎnthe company's boss
  • 上海 天气 Shànghǎi de tiānqì Shanghai's weather
  • 老师 朋友 lǎoshī de péngyouteacher's friend

See also

Sources and further reading