Relative pronoun and 的 troubles

I've learned that the relative pronoun doesn't really exist in Chinese, but is shown by 的. This is all easy to understand so far, but the word order when using it as a relative pronoun confuses me. I mean, I understand when reading it, but when making my own sentence I get confused. For example: 一点到五点走的男子很高兴 or is it 一点到五点的男子很高兴走? Or what about: 我看了的人 or 人的我看了?(side note I'm probably saying "from blank o'clock to black o'clock" wrong)

And I'm also a bit confused on when to use 的 with adjectives. I've read that one syllable adjectives go in front and two+ syllable adjectives go after and are connected by 的, but I've seen example where 的 is used no matter what. What are the rules for this?

November 29, 2017

  • 1508

These notes about 的 may be useful: (from

(possession particle): 的 is usually omitted when referring to a close relationship (family, close friends) or to an institutional or organizational relationship (school, work).

  • 這是我媽媽 / 这是我妈妈 ― zhè shì wǒ māma ― This is my mother
  • 這是我們學校 / 这是我们学校 ― zhè shì wǒmen xuéxiào ― This is our school

(particle linking a noun and an adjective): 的 is omitted if it is used with a single-syllable adjective.

  • 壞人 / 坏人 ― huàirén ― bad person

It must be used when the adjective has more than one syllable or if the adjective is qualified by an adverb.

  • 奇怪的人 ― qíguài de rén ― strange person
  • 很好的茶 ― hěn hǎo de chá ― a very good tea

的 is also omitted when the association is frequent

  • 中國人 / 中国人 ― zhōngguórén ― Chinese people
November 29, 2017
  • 1508

As for the word order, one simple rule: Attribute + 的 + Object

  • the [happy] man — (the) [高兴] 的 男子
  • the man [who is happy] — (the) [高兴] 的 人
  • the man [I saw] — [我 看见] 的 (那/那个 the/that) 人
  • the man [seen by me] — [(被 by) 我 看见] 的 人
  • the [happy] man [I saw] — [我 看见] 的 [高兴] 的 男子
  • the [happy] man [I saw] — [高兴] 的 [我 看见] 的 男子
  • the man [I saw] is happy — [我 看见] 的 男子 很高兴
November 29, 2017

As you didn't provide the English sentence it is not easy to judge whether you have successfully delivered your meaning. I can understand the sentence

[一点到][五点走][的][男子][很高兴] as

[The man] [who] [arrived at 1] and [left at 5 ] was [very happy].

In this sense it is acceptable.

As to 一点到五点的男子很高兴走, I don't think it would be a good sentence by all means.

If you are not certain, you should try to make up the clauses first, and then rearrange them, to avoid making a deliberate word order.



→ 一点到五点走 男人 很高兴

→ 很高兴 男人 一点到五点走

I am not saying these sentences are all that natural, but I think at least there is no grammar issue.

November 30, 2017

Thanks! For the first one how would I say "The man who walked from 1 til 2 was very happy"? Do I just add 从?

November 30, 2017

I continue your choice of word for “To walk” as 走. If more context is given, other words may be better. Also 点 is for verbal use only. The written form should be 时. 2 o'clock in written form is 二时, but its verbal form is 两点.

To say "to walk from A o'clock to B o'clock" naturally in Chinese, we actually should put the verb in the middle:


It is not natural to to say 从A点到B点走. We only do that when we talk about a schedule.


Now it should be easy to translate "That man walked from 1 o'clock till 2 o'clock"

那个男人 从一点 走 到两点

Concerting to a clause it gives

→ 从一点 走 到两点 男人~

November 30, 2017

There may be regional factors, but 点 is used on written notices and other 正式 documents all the time.

December 3, 2017

First your 'from blank to blank' would actually be '从_点到_点'. 从 = From, 到 = To.

November 29, 2017

What can be confusing is that very long modifiers can come before 的. It's similar to extended modifiers in (mostly written) German.

November 30, 2017
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