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The Adverbial DE Particle

Forming Adverbs with the DE Particle


The Adverbial DE Particle

Mandarin Chinese has three different particles which are pronounced de. The most common is the possessive de (的) particle, which is used in possessive pronouns (e.g. wǒ de = mine), as well as for emphasis.

Another fairly common de particle is 地, which is used to indicate adverbs. The adverbial de is used after an adjective or phrase to indicate the intention, manner or method that an action is done.

The character 地 has two meanings. Beside being an adverbial marker, it also means earth or ground, and is found in compounds such as 地板 (dì bǎn - floor) and 地球 (dì qiú – the planet Earth).

Note that when the character 地 is used to mean earth, the pronunciation is dì, but when used as an adverbial marker, the pronunciation should be de. You will sometimes hear the adverbial 地 pronounced as dì, perhaps because the character is most commonly seen in compounds with the “earth” meaning.


Here are some examples of the adverbial de. Note that the adverb usually appears before the verb it modifies.

English Pinyin Traditional Characters Simplified Characters
seriously rèn zhēn de 認真地 认真地
gently qīng qīng de 輕輕地 轻轻地
very slowly màn màn de 慢慢地 慢慢地
inwardly àn de lǐ 暗地裡 暗地里
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