Chinese Pronouns

Chinese Possessive Pronouns vs Possessive Determiners (Mine vs My) with “的 De”



Use of Chinese Possessive Pronouns vs Possessive Determiners

Chinese Possessive Pronouns (Mine) and Possessive Determiners (My), also known as Possessive Adjectives are not the same, even though both terms demonstrate ownership. Both use the Chinese Pronouns +  | De in a different placement in Mandarin. Just pay attention to the sentence construction and position of  | De.


*Do note that the Personal Pronouns below can be replaced by other subjects such as a person’s name, an animal, an object etc.

Take a look below at both the Table of the English Possessive Terms vs Chinese Possessive Pronouns and Determiner.

Table of English Possessive Term List

Personal PronounsPossessive DeterminersPossessive Pronouns
IMyMine
YouYourYours
HeHisHis
SheHerHers
ItItsIts
WeOurOurs
You (Plural)YourYours
TheyTheirTheirs

Table of Chinese Possessive Term List

Personal PronounsPossessive DeterminersPossessive Pronouns
我的 ____ (是) 我的。
你,您你的 __,您的 ____ (是) 你的。/__ (是) 您的。
他的 ____ (是) 他的。
她的 ____ (是) 她的。
它的 ____ (是)它的。
我们我们的 ____ (是) 我们的。
你们你们的 ____ (是) 你们的。
他们他们的 ____ (是) 他们的。
她们她们的 ____ (是) 她们的。
它们它们的 ____ (是) 它们的。

I hope the table above gives you a clearer picture of how to form a Chinese sentence with  | de which is a neutral tone in Chinese Pinyin. The underscore ( __ ) represents nouns.




Chinese Possessive Determiners with  De

Personal Pronouns +  + Nouns

 

The word de will come after the pronoun and before a noun. Although this is the standard ‘formula’ of using a Chinese Possessive Determiner, you will see and hear for yourself that it is common for the Chinese people to drop the de when they speak. In many instances, it sounds correct.

Do not be too bothered whether the de should be dropped because it will come naturally to you later. In the meanwhile, learn the standard way of Chinese by adding  into your Possessive Determiner sentence, so that you will always be correct when you express yourself in words or writing.

Chinese Possessive Pronouns with  De

Nouns + (是) + Personal Pronoun  + 。/ Info

 

The Chinese Possessive Pronouns have nouns (or none) placed in front of the Personal Pronouns, followed by a de and then a full-stop.

The Chinese Possessive Pronouns placement is typically at the end of the sentence like the English sentence – Eg. It is mine | 这是我的. The  of such a construction is not dropped unlike the Chinese Possessive Determiner above. If you omit out , the sentence will be incomplete.

The English ‘verb to be‘ – am, are, is | | shì has a bracket in it which means that it can be omitted out or replaced depending on the Chinese sentence construction.

For the above example, 这是我的, you cannot omit the 是 from it too. Otherwise, the sentence is not correct. Most of the times, the Chinese Possessive Pronouns will have a 是 shì before the nouns.


Sentences – Chinese Possessive Pronouns vs Possessive Determiners

Enough of the theory. Let’s take a look at the Chinese sentence examples of both.

Note: The sentence will be marked with (D) and (P) which stands for Possessive Determiner and Possessive Pronoun respectively so you can make a comparison in a more complicated sentence.

This is my book (D). The book is mine (P).

这是我的书。这本书是我的。
Zhè shì wǒ de shū. Zhè běn shū shì wǒ de.


That is your clothes (D). My clothes are here (D).

那是你的衣服。我的衣服在这里。
Nà shì nǐ de yī fú. Wǒ de yī fú zài zhè lǐ.


Your house is very big (D). Our house is smaller (D).

你们的房子很大。我们的房子比较小。
Nǐ men de fáng zi hěn dà. Wǒ men de fáng zi bǐ jiào xiǎo.


Three of its legs are injured (D). That cat has no problem with its legs (D).

它的三只脚受伤了。那只猫的脚没事。
Tā de sān zhī jiǎo shòu shāng le. Nà zhǐ māo de jiǎo méi shì.


Is this your car? (D) It belongs to my husband. It’s his (P).

这是你的车吗?是我丈夫的。是他的。
Wǒ men yǒu sān gè hái zi.


Whose books? Theirs (females).

谁的书?是她们的。
Shéi de shū? Shì tā men de.


From Possessive Determiner to Possessive Pronoun

When a noun has been mentioned once in Possessive Determiners, you can drop it from the subordinate clause and turn it into a Possessive Pronoun. You can relate such a sentence construction like a direct English translation. Look at the two sets of examples below.

His friends are very hardworking (D), different from her friends (D).

他的朋友很勤劳, 和她的朋友不一样。
Tā de péng yǒu hěn qín láo, hé tā de péng yǒu bù yī yàng.


His friends are very hardworking (D), different from hers (P).

他的朋友很勤劳, 和她的不一样。
Tā de péng yǒu hěn qín láo, hé tā de bù yī yàng.

 

Their children are very cute (D). Our children are also very cute (D).

他们的孩子很可爱。我们的孩子也很可爱。
Tā men de hái zi hěn kě’ài. Wǒ men de hái zi yě hěn kě’ài.


Their children are very cute (D). Ours is also very cute (P).

他们的孩子很可爱。我们的也很可爱。
Tā men de hái zi hěn kě’ài. Wǒ men de yě hěn kě’ài.



 

Chinese Possessive Pronouns Sentences

When I wrote the sentences below, it reminded me that I used to tell my boyfriend in a joking manner – “What is mine is mine, what is yours is mine“.

It seemed that this ‘joke’, or maybe a fact for some, is exclusively used by the Chinese women on their husbands. Perhaps, we are brainwashed by some relationship value that a man should be the lead and provide for the family. Traditional, indeed.

What is mine, is mine, what is yours is mine.

我的是我的, 你的是我的。
Wǒ de shì wǒ de, nǐ de shì wǒ de.


 

Omission of  De from Chinese Possessive Determiners

Here is another set of examples where the particle 的 is omitted from the Possessive Determiner sentences, and still deemed as correct. The de omission method is used when describing people who are closed to you such as your family members and friends.

It stemmed probably out of convenience over time and frequently in colloquial speech with singular pronouns till it becomes acceptable. With or without , it does not matter much as long as it does not sound strange to us.

What is your job?

工作是什么?
de gōng zuò shì shén me?


My husband and my family members get along well.

丈夫和我家人都很合得来。
de zhàng fū hé wǒ de jiā rén dōu hěn hé dé lái.


I know that his time is precious.

我知道他时间宝贵。
Wǒ zhī dào tā de shí jiān bǎo guì.

 

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