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The Potential Complement DE

Showing the Outcome of Actions


The Potential Complement DE

There are three DE particles used in Mandarin Chinese: the possessive de (的), the adverbial de (地), and the potential complement de (得).

The potential complement de is used to show the outcome of an action or event. This action can be habitual (i.e. he walks slowly) or a particular event (i.e. he sang well last night).

The potential complement de is placed after a verb. This structure is followed by a phrase which shows the result of the preceding action:

VERB + de 得 + RESULT

Here is an example:

Tā shuō de hěn hǎo.
He speaks well.

In the example above, the de 得 particle comes after the verb shuō (speak), and the following phrase (hěn hǎo) describes how the speaking is done.

More Examples

Pinyin English Traditional Characters Simplified Characters
Nǐ tīng dé dǒng ma ? Do you understand (what was said)? 你聽得懂嗎? 你听得懂吗?
Bàozhǐ wǒ kàn dé wán. I finished reading the newspaper. 報紙我看得完。 报纸我看得完。
Tā pǎo de chuǎnbúshàng qì lái. He was out of breath from running. 他跑得喘不上氣來。 他跑得喘不上气来。
Tā chàng gē chàng de hěn hǎo. He sings very well. 他唱歌唱得很好。 他唱歌唱得很好。
Xiāng Gǎng bǐ Běijīng de tiānqì rè dé duō. The weather in Hong Kong is much hotter than Beijing. 香港比北京的天氣熱得多。 香港比北京的天气热得多。
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